Under pressure program: using live theatre to investigate adolescents' attitudes and behavior related to drug and alcohol abuse education and prevention

Adolescence. 1993 Spring;28(109):135-48.


This paper describes the Under Pressure Program, an innovative communication-centered approach designed to involve Chicago public junior and senior high school students in considering the problems and prevention of adolescent substance abuse. The centerpiece of the program is a 30-minute live musical play, Captain Clean, which incorporates extensive postperformance dialogue and role play to explore the pressures and feelings of adolescents regarding substance abuse. This unique blend of live entertainment and applied learning techniques enables adolescents to understand the pressures they face and teaches them to make responsible choices, in addition to serving as a vehicle for effective school and community substance abuse intervention. By going beyond the 60-second "just say no" television and radio campaigns, the Under Pressure Program addresses the underlying causes of adolescent substance abuse. Students are engaged in active participation rather than the traditional "teach and preach." The goals of the program are (1) to evaluate the effectiveness of live theatre in preventing and intervening in adolescent substance abuse, and (2) to examine the effectiveness of live theatre, via postperformance dialogue and role playing, in soliciting feedback from adolescents as to their own feelings about substance abuse and using school counselors and other available resources, and to build upon their recommendations for improving substance abuse prevention and intervention programs. The program is targeted at predominantly minority, low-income students who have been identified as "high risk." The Under Pressure format consists of four integral parts: faculty/staff community in-service: theatrical performance (Captain Clean); postperformance dialogue and role play; and student, faculty, counselor, and community follow-up.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Chicago
  • Child
  • Drama*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Role Playing*
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Urban Population*