Project towards No
Drug Abuse is a multi-session, school-based program designed to prevent drug use
in high school students. Program curriculum alerts students to the health risks
associated with drug use and helps students develop skills relevant to
drug-resistance. The program was initially developed for students in alternative
high schools; however, it has been successfully implemented in general high
schools as well.
Project Towards No
Drug Abuse has been shown to have a significant impact on the use of hard drugs.
A long-term evaluation of the program found that the impact on hard drug use was
observable five years after the program’s completion. Project Towards No Drug
Abuse also has been shown to have a significant short-term impact on alcohol use
amongst heavy users, but this impact was no longer observable at the five year
point. The program has not been shown to have an impact on the use of cigarettes
Population: High school students
started with the intention to focus on tobacco use but expanded to all drugs.
Project Towards No Drug Abuse, a school-based program, is based on the theory
that high school students are less likely to use or abuse drugs if they know
what is fact versus what is myth surrounding drugs, have the skills to lower
their risk of taking drugs (e.g., coping and self-control), understand the
consequences of taking drugs, and known about cessation strategies. The program,
as it was initially developed, included nine 50-minute lessons and was designed
specifically for at-risk youth. Currently, the program includes twelve 40-minute
lessons and is considered appropriate for all high-school aged youth. A program
manual can be purchased for $12.
schools went through a three-week-long, nine-session implementation of the
Project Towards No Drug Abuse program. In the classroom plus
school-as-community schools, the Project Towards No Drug Abuse program was
supplemented by community-building events (including weekly meetings of an
Associated Student Body Core Group for six months, at least six pro-health
events, and distribution of a community newsletter). The researchers’ hope was
that the effectiveness of the classroom-based programming might be increased by
the provision of drug abuse material outside of the classroom.
Dent, C. W., Stacy, A. W., & Craig, S. (1998). One-year outcomes of Project
Towards No Drug Abuse. Preventive Medicine: An International Journal Devoted
to Practice & Theory, 27,632-642.
Population: Continuation high school youth (high-risk) in southern
California (N=1,074 at follow-up, 67% of the sample at baseline). Mean age of
students was 16.7 years. Of the sample, 62% were male, 37% were white, 46% were
Latino, 4% were asian, 8% were black, 3% were American Indian, and 2% were
Twenty-one schools were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control,
classroom program, and classroom plus school-as-community program (encouraging
students to engage in positive relationships with others at the school).
measured cigarette, alcohol, marijuana, and hard drug use at one year follow-up.
authors analyzed the individual students instead of the classrooms, and they
used appropriate statistical methods to account for the issues that arise from
such a choice. The outcomes of drug use at the one-year follow-up varied
significantly by condition. The data show that those in the intervention group
nearly halved their monthly use frequency compared with those in the control
group. The program conditions did not significantly differ from one another on
any outcomes. At the one-year follow-up, for all four outcomes except cigarette
use, the control condition had higher means for frequency of use than either of
the two interventions.
Sun, W., Skara,
S., Sun, P., Dent, C. W., & Sussman, S. (2006). Project Towards No Drug Abuse:
Long-term substance use outcome evaluation. Preventative Medicine, 42,
Population: Students from 21 alternative high schools (N=1578) in southern
California consented to evaluation at pre-test. (This represents an 85%
participation rate amongst eligible students.) Of these students, 32% were
white, 50% were Hispanic, 9% were African American, and 9% were of other
ethnicity. These students were followed for five years, with 1074 (68%)
providing short-term data, 1047 (66%) providing middle-term data, and 725 (46%)
providing long-term data. The students ranged in age from 14 to 19 at pre-test.
Alternative high schools (N=21 schools, N=1578 students) were assigned to a
classroom-only program condition (N=7), a classroom plus school-as-community
program condition (N=7), or a control condition (N=7). All schools administered
a survey on recent (within the last 30 days) drug use to consenting students.
re-surveyed (primarily via phone interview) on their recent drug use in the
short-term (after 1 year), middle-term (after 2 or 3 years), and long-term
(after 4 or 5 years).
the one-year mark, The Project Towards No Drug Abuse program was found to have
had an impact on the use of hard drugs. The program conditions were
significantly less likely to use hard drugs than the control condition. Amongst
those participants identified as heavy users of alcohol at pre-test, there was
also a significant impact on alcohol use. In the long-term, the impact on hard
drug use remained significant while impact on alcohol use had dissipated. The
program was not found to have had an impact on cigarette or marijuana use. The
addition of community-building events to the program did not significantly
increase the program’s effectiveness.
Dent, C. W., Sussman, S., & Stacy, A. W. (2001). Project Towards No Drug
Abuse: Generalizability to a general high school sample. Preventive Medicine:
An International Journal Devoted to Practice & Theory, 32, 514-520.
Evaluated population: Students from 26 classrooms (N=1208 adolescents) within three public Los Angeles high
schools participated in a pre-test. Of these students, 34% were white, 38% were
Latino, 26% were African American, and 2% were of other ethnicity. Sixty three
percent of these students (N=679), were reached for follow-up data (a response
rate of 63%). The students ranged in age from 14 to 17 at pre-test. Baseline
rates of drug use were as follows: 38% for alcohol, 21% for marijuana, 21% for
cigarettes, and 7% for other illicit drugs.
Students from all 26 classrooms took a survey on recent (within the last 30
days) drug use. Thirteen classrooms were assigned to a control group and 13
were assigned to the classroom education program condition. Classes assigned to
the program condition received a three-week, nine-session implementation of the
Towards No Drug Abuse program. Students were re-surveyed after one year, either
via telephone interview or a paper-and-pencil questionnaire.
year after program completion, Project Towards No Drugs was found to have had a
significant impact on the use of illicit drugs. Among students with higher
levels of alcohol use at pre-test, the program was successful in impacting
alcohol use. The program was not found to have had a significant impact on the
use of marijuana or cigarettes.
The patterns found
in this study of general high school youth replicated those previously found in
a study of youth at higher-risk high schools (Sussman et al., 1998). Researchers
concluded that Project Towards No Drug Abuse is appropriate for a wide-range of
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Dent, C. W.,
Sussman, S., & Stacy, A. W. (2001). Project Towards No Drug Abuse:
Generalizability to a general high school sample. Preventive Medicine: An
International Journal Devoted to Practice & Theory, 32, 514-520.
Sun, W., Skara, S.,
Sun, P., Dent, C. W., & Sussman, S. (2006). Project Towards No Drug Abuse:
Long-term substance use outcome evaluation. Preventative Medicine, 42, 188-192.
Sussman, S., Dent,
C. W., Stacy, A. W., & Craig, S. (1998). One-year outcomes of Project Towards No
Drug Abuse. Preventive Medicine: An International Journal Devoted to Practice &
Theory, 27, 632-642.
Adolescence (12-17), Youth, Young Adults, Substance Use, Alcohol Use,
Marijuana/Illicit/Prescription Drugs, High-Risk, High School, School-based,
White or Caucasian, Hispanic or Latino, Black or African-American, Community,
Urban, Tobacco Use.
information last updated 5/24/11.