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NIDA Home > Publications > Preventing Drug Abuse Among Children & Adolescents

Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents
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Examples of Research-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Programs

To help those working in drug abuse prevention, NIDA, in cooperation with the prevention scientists, presents the following examples of research-based programs that feature a variety of strategies proven to be effective. Each program was developed as part of a research study, which demonstrated that over time youth who participated in the programs had better outcomes than those who did not. The programs are presented within their audience category (universal, selective, indicated, or tiered).

Since these programs are only examples, community planners may wish to explore the additional programs and planning guides highlighted in Selected Resources and References. For more information on program materials and references, please consult Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders, Second Edition [download PDF - 688K]. With NIDA’s continued support of research on effective prevention strategies, new research-based programs will continue to be made available in the future.

Universal Programs

Caring School Community Program (Formerly, Child Development Project). This is a universal family-plus-school program to reduce risk and strengthen protective factors among elementary school children. The program focuses on strengthening students’ “sense of community,” or connection, to school. Research has shown that this sense of community has been key to reducing drug use, violence, and mental health problems, while promoting academic motivation and achievement.

Eric Schaps, Ph.D.
Caring School Community Program
Developmental Studies Center
2000 Embarcadero, Suite 305
Oakland, CA 94606-5300
Phone: 510-533-0213
Fax: 510-464-3670
Web site:

Classroom-Centered (CC) and Family-School Partnership (FSP) Intervention. The CC and FSP interventions are universal first-grade interventions to reduce later onset of violence and aggressive behavior and to improve academic performance. Program strategies include classroom management and organizational strategies, reading and mathematics curricula, parent-teacher communication, and children’s behavior management in the home.

Nicholas Ialongo, Ph.D.
Department of Mental Health
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University
624 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: 410-550-3441
Fax: 410-550-3461

Guiding Good Choices (GGC) (Formerly, Preparing for the Drug-Free Years). This curriculum was designed to educate parents on how to reduce risk factors and strengthen bonding in their families. In five 2-hour sessions, parents are taught skills on family involvement and interaction; setting clear expectations, monitoring behavior, and maintaining discipline; and other family management and bonding approaches.

J. David Hawkins, Ph.D.
Social Development Research Group
University of Washington
9725 Third Avenue NE, Suite 401
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 206-543-7655
Fax: 206-543-4507
Web site:

Life Skills Training (LST) Program. LST is a universal program for middle school students designed to address a wide range of risk and protective factors by teaching general personal and social skills, along with drug resistance skills and education. An elementary school version was recently developed and the LST booster program for high school students helps to retain the gains of the middle school program.

Gilbert Botvin, Ph.D.
Institute for Prevention Research
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
411 East 69th Street, Room 203
New York, NY 10021
Phone: 212-746-1270
Fax: 212-746-8390
Web site:

Lions-Quest Skills for Adolescence (SFA). SFA is a commercially available, universal, life skills education program for middle school students in use in schools nationwide. The focus is on teaching skills for building self-esteem and personal responsibility, communication, decision-making, resisting social influences and asserting rights, and increasing drug use knowledge and consequences.

Marvin Eisen, Ph.D.
Population Studies Center
The Urban Institute
2100 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: 202-261-5858
Fax: 202-452-1840
Web site:

Project ALERT. Project ALERT is a 2-year, universal program for middle school students, designed to reduce the onset and regular use of drugs among youth. It focuses on preventing the use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and inhalants. Project ALERT Plus, an enhanced version, has added a high school component, which is being tested in 45 rural communities.

Phyllis L. Ellickson, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Research on
Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health
The RAND Corporation
1700 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
Phone: 310-393-0411
Fax: 310-451-7062
Web site:

Project STAR. Project STAR is a comprehensive drug abuse prevention community program to be used by schools, parents, community organizations, the media, and health policymakers. The middle school portion focuses on social influence and is included in classroom instruction by trained teachers over a 2-year timetable. The parent program helps parents work with children on homework, learn family communication skills, and get involved in community action.

Karen Bernstein, M.P.H.
University of Southern California
Institute for Prevention Research
1000 S. Fremont Avenue, Unit #8 Alhambra, CA 91803
Phone: 626-457-6687
Fax: 626-457-6695

Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS). PATHS is a comprehensive program for promoting emotional health and social skills. The program also focuses on reducing aggression and behavior problems in elementary school children, while enhancing the educational process in the classroom.

Mark T. Greenberg, Ph.D.
Prevention Research Center
Pennsylvania State University
110 Henderson Building-South
University Park, PA 16802-6504
Phone: 814-863-0112
Fax: 814-865-2530
Web site:

Skills, Opportunity, And Recognition (SOAR) (Formerly, Seattle Social Development Program). This universal school-based intervention for grades one through six seeks to reduce childhood risks for delinquency and drug abuse by enhancing protective factors. The multi-component intervention combines training for teachers, parents, and children during the elementary grades to promote children’s bonding to school, positive school behavior, and academic achievement.

J. David Hawkins, Ph.D.
Social Development Research Group
University of Washington 9725 Third Avenue NE, Suite 401
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 206-543-7655
Fax: 206-543-4507
Web site:

The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10–14 (SFP 10–14) (Formerly, the Iowa Strengthening Families Program). This program offers seven sessions, each attended by youth and their parents, and is conducted through partnerships that include state university researchers, cooperative extension staff, local schools, and other community organizations.

Virginia Molgaard, Ph.D.
Prevention Program Development
The Strengthening Families Program:
For Parents and Youth 10–14
Institute for Social and Behavioral Research
Iowa State University
2625 North Loop Drive, Suite 500
Ames, IA 50010-8296
Phone: 515-294-8762
Fax: 515-294-3613
Web site:

Selective Programs

Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids (ATLAS). ATLAS is a selective program for male high school athletes, designed to reduce risk factors for use of anabolic steroids and other drugs, while providing healthy nutrition and strength-training alternatives to illegal use of athletic-enhancing substances. Coaches and peer teammates are part of the program. Parents are involved through homework and a take-home guide on sports nutrition.

Linn Goldberg, M.D., FACSM
Division of Health Promotion
and Sports Medicine Oregon Health & Science University
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, OR 97201-3098
Phone: 503-494-8051
Fax: 503-494-1310
Web site:

Coping Power. Coping Power is a multi-component child and parent preventive intervention directed at pre-adolescent children at high risk for aggressiveness and later drug abuse and delinquency. The Coping Power Child Component is a program for fifth- and sixth-graders, usually in an after-school setting. Training teaches children how to identify and cope with anxiety and anger; control impulses; and develop social, academic, and problem-solving skills. Parents are also provided training.

John E. Lochman, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
University of Alabama
P.O. Box 870348
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Phone: 205-348-7678
Fax: 205-348-8648

Focus on Families (FOF). FOF, a selective program for parents receiving methadone treatment and their children, seeks to reduce parents’ use of illegal drugs and teaches family management skills to reduce their children’s risk for future drug abuse. The promise of the FOF program—particularly for very high-risk families—is evident in the early reduction in family-related risk factors with an overall trend toward positive program effects on child outcomes.

Richard F. Catalano, Ph.D.
Social Development Research Group
9725 Third Avenue, NE
Suite 401 University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 206-543-6382
Fax: 206-543-4507
Web site:

The Strengthening Families Program (SFP). SFP, a universal and selective multi-component, family-focused prevention program, provides support for families with 6- to 11-year-olds. The program, which began as an effort to help drug-abusing parents improve their parenting skills and reduce their children’s risk for subsequent problems, has shown success in elementary schools and communities.

Karol Kumpfer, Ph.D.
University of Utah
Department of Health Promotion
300 S. 1850 E., Room 215
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0920
Phone: 801-581-7718
Fax: 801-581-5872
Web site:

Indicated Programs

Project Towards No Drug Abuse (Project TND). This indicated prevention intervention targets high school age youth who attend alternative or traditional high schools. The goal is to prevent the transition from drug use to drug abuse, through considering the developmental issues faced by older teens.

Steve Sussman, Ph.D., FAAHB
Institute for Health Promotion
and Disease Prevention Research
Departments of Preventive Medicine
and Psychology
University of Southern California
1000 S. Fremont Avenue, Unit 8
Building A-4, Room 4124
Alhambra, CA 91803
Phone: 626-457-6635
Fax: 626-457-4012

Reconnecting Youth Program (RY). RY is a school-based indicated prevention program for high school students with poor school achievement and potential for dropping out. The program goals are to increase school performance, reduce drug use, and learn skills to manage mood and emotions.

Beth McNamara, MSW
Director of Programs & Trainers
Reconnecting Youth Program
Web site:

Tiered Programs

Adolescent Transitions Program (ATP). ATP is a school-based program that uses a tiered approach to provide prevention services to students in middle and junior high school and their parents. The universal intervention directed to parents of all students in a school establishes a Family Resource Center. The selective intervention level, called the Family Check-Up, offers family assessment and professional support. The indicated level provides direct professional help to the family.

Thomas J. Dishion, Ph.D.
University of Oregon
Child and Family Center
195 West 12th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401-3408
Phone: 541-346-4805
Fax: 541-346-4858
Web site:

Early Risers “Skills for Success” Risk Prevention Program. Early Risers is a selective, preventive intervention for elementary school children at heightened risk for early onset of serious conduct problems, including legal and illegal drug use. The program’s focus is on improving academic ability, self-control, social skills, and parental involvement in the child’s activities.

Gerald J. August, Ph.D. Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
University of Minnesota Medical School
P256/2B West, 2450 Riverside Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55454-1495
Phone: 612-273-9711
Fax: 612-273-9779

Fast Track Prevention Trial for Conduct Problems. Fast Track is a preventive intervention for young children at high risk for long-term anti-social behavior. The intervention includes a universal classroom program (adapted from the PATHS curriculum) for high-risk children selected in kindergarten. The selective intervention reaches parents and children at higher risk for conduct problems.

Conduct Problems Prevention
Research Group
Karen L. Bierman, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania State University
Prevention Research Center
110 Henderson Building-South
University Park, PA 16802-6504
Phone: 814-865-3879
Fax: 814-865-3246

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