New inroads in preventing adolescent drug use: results from a large-scale trial of project ALERT in middle schools

Am J Public Health. 2003 Nov;93(11):1830-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.11.1830.


Objectives: We evaluated the revised Project ALERT drug prevention program across a wide variety of Midwestern schools and communities.

Methods: Fifty-five South Dakota middle schools were randomly assigned to program or control conditions. Treatment group students received 11 lessons in 7th grade and 3 more in 8th grade. Program effects for 4276 8th-graders were assessed 18 months after baseline.

Results: The revised Project ALERT curriculum curbed cigarette and marijuana use initiation, current and regular cigarette use, and alcohol misuse. Reductions ranged from 19% to 39%. Program effects were not significant for initial and current drinking or for current and regular marijuana use.

Conclusions: School-based drug prevention programs can prevent occasional and more serious drug use, help low- to high-risk adolescents, and be effective in diverse school environments.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adolescent Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Adolescent Health Services / standards
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Health Education / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology
  • Marijuana Smoking / prevention & control
  • Models, Organizational
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Risk-Taking
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • School Health Services / standards
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Prevention
  • South Dakota / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*