Mar 20, 2015


The Climate Schools alcohol and cannabis course is an in-school health education program for 13-year-olds. Each lesson includes a cartoon accessed via the internet and a follow-up activity with a teacher. An evaluation of the program found that it increased students’ knowledge about alcohol and cannabis, and decreased their use, six months after the students finished the course.


Target population: Thirteen-year-olds

The Climate Schools alcohol and cannabis course is a school-based health curriculum to reduce alcohol and cannabis use. The intervention consists of two sets of six 40-minute lessons. The first set is on alcohol and the other is on cannabis, although the first two lessons of the second set are a review of the lessons on alcohol. There are two parts to each lesson: an individually-completed internet based part, and an activity led by the teacher. The individual part is an interactive (still) cartoon showing real-life situations involving cannabis and alcohol. There are versions online available for American, Australian, and British schools.


Newton, N.C., Andrews, G., Teesson, M., & Vogl, L.E. (2009). Delivering prevention for alcohol and cannabis using the internet: A cluster randomised controlled trial. Preventive Medicine, 48, 579-584.

Evaluated population: Researchers tested the intervention with 13-year-old students from ten independent (private) schools in Sydney, Australia. A total of 944 students participated in the study. Sixty percent were male.

Approach: Five schools were randomly assigned to receive the Climate Schools health intervention and five used their ordinary health curriculum as a control. Four of the five control schools also delivered alcohol and cannabis drug education programs based on harm-minimization strategies. Surveys that measured alcohol and cannabis knowledge, consumption, harms, and expectancies were given to students immediately before and after the intervention, and again six months later. Student and teachers in the intervention schools were also asked whether they liked the intervention and found it useful.

Control schools were more heavily male (65 versus 54 percent), while intervention schools had higher alcohol- and cannabis-related knowledge, weekly consumption of alcohol, and frequency of binging at baseline.

Out of the initial 944 students who consented to participate, 81 percent completed baseline surveys, 47 percent completed surveys immediately after the intervention, and 67 percent completed surveys six months later. Attrition analysis found that, besides higher levels of drinking to excess in the past three months, there were no differences between those who completed follow-up surveys and those who did not. Analyses were adjusted for clustering by school when significant.

Results: The intervention increased knowledge about alcohol and cannabis more than the control class, and this result was still evident at the six-month follow-up. There were significant impacts on average weekly alcohol consumption and frequency of cannabis use six-months after the intervention. Both measures increased in the control schools, but decreased slightly in the intervention schools in that time period. There were no significant impacts on binge drinking frequency, alcohol or cannabis harms, positive attitudes towards alcohol or cannabis, or consumption of cannabis or alcohol immediately after the intervention.

Both students and teachers reported that they liked the intervention. Ninety-three percent of students said that the format of the course was appropriate and enjoyable, and 85 percent said that they would use the information. Ninety-one percent of teachers reported that the program matched the syllabus well, and 72 percent said the program was better than other programs.



Newton, N.C., Andrews, G., Teesson, M., & Vogl, L.E. (2009). Delivering prevention for alcohol and cannabis using the internet: A cluster randomised controlled trial. Preventive Medicine, 48, 579-584.


Contact Information

Nicola C. Newton

KEYWORDS: Adolescents, Middle School, Males and Females, Urban, School-based, manual, computer-based, Marijuana, Alcohol Use.

Program information last updated on 03/20/2015.