Substance Abuse

Our programs are designed to prevent substance abuse, from early childhood into adolescence and beyond. Substance abuse is a complex and multifaceted health problem, and so we use a variety of theoretical approaches and delivery methods in response. What unites our programs is their proven effectiveness through rigorous research and testing.

Elementary School Age

Media Detective

Media Detective is a school-based media literacy education program designed to help 3rd-5th grade students avoid using alcohol and tobacco products (including e-cigarettes). The program includes 10 teacher-led lessons, each about 45 minutes long. Even in elementary school, children receive dangerously positive messages about substance use in advertising. Media Detectives Snoop and Scoop teach students the strategies advertisers use to persuade people to use alcohol and tobacco products and discover the missing health information about what really happens when you use alcohol and tobacco. Ultimately, students are equipped to critically analyze and reject these persuasive media messages in the future.

click here for more information

Media Detective Family Night

Media Detective Family Night is a one-time in-person event for the entire family to improve their media literacy skills. After students have completed Media Detective, schools or other youth-based organizations can host this engaging teacher-led event to integrate the whole family in their substance abuse prevention efforts. Children, who are “certified” Media Detectives help teach their families the clues for solving advertising mysteries and family members practice these skills together to also become Media Detectives. Media Detective Family Night helps parents become more aware of the influence of media on their children’s decisions whether or not to use alcohol or tobacco products. Parents receive resources and strategies to support their family conversations about media and substance use. After this program, families will have the skills to use and continue to build their media literacy skills in their everyday lives.

click here for more information

Media Detective Family

Media Detective Family is a web-based media literacy education program designed to help families with children in elementary school avoid tobacco and alcohol products. The program is self-paced and takes about three hours to complete. Persuasive advertisements that make alcohol and tobacco use look glamorous and cool can be seen everywhere. Media Detectives Scoop and Snoop help the whole family discover the mysteries behind these advertisements and learn to think more critically about what they are really claiming about substance use. Families engage in important conversations about media and substance use and solve interesting cases along the way.

click here for more information

Master Mind

Master Mind is a mindfulness education substance abuse prevention program for late elementary school (4th and 5th grade) students. The program is led by trained instructors over a 5-week period, with lessons taught daily for approximately 15 minutes at a time. Difficulties with self-regulation are strongly and consistently predictive of substance abuse. This program directly addresses these critical skills by teaching students developmentally appropriate mindfulness skills that include mindful meditation, mindful movement, breathing techniques, and the application of these skills to situations that may be associated with unhealthy decision-making, including the use of alcohol or tobacco.

click here for more information

Middle School Age

Media Ready

Media Ready is a school-based media literacy education program designed to delay or prevent the onset of substance use. The program has 10 engaging teacher-led lessons, each about 45 minutes long. Adolescents today are exposed to a barrage of media messages about substance use from every direction. It can be hard to tell paid advertising for alcohol and tobacco products from other content. Media Ready teaches students critical thinking skills that can be applied to a broad range of persuasive media messages, from print ads, to commercials, to social media. Students will come away from Media Ready being able to identify the implied messages in advertising as well as to uncover the missing information that is left out of advertising, namely the real health effects of drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, or vaping.

click here for more information

High School Age

Media World

Media World is a school-based media literacy education program designed to help high school students delay substance use and prevent substance abuse. The program has 12 teacher-led lessons, each about 45 minutes long. High school opens up a world of new possibilities and new challenges for students. Furthermore, media messages about substances are more complex than straightforward advertisements for legal substances. Media World expands upon the content of our programs for younger students by including discussion of substance use beyond alcohol and tobacco — such as marijuana, steroids, and misuse of prescription medications. Media World helps adolescents improve their critical thinking skills when it comes to a broad range of persuasive media messages, including print ads, commercials, product placement, and social media so that they are better prepared to make positive health decisions.

click here for more information


The Aware Program are online mindfulness substance abuse prevention programs. One is designed for adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and the other is designed for teens with 22q11DS . The programs consist of 4 web-based courses, each with 4-5 lessons that take 15 minutes to complete. Aware provides youth with FASD or 22q11DS with new, healthy ways of regulating their behaviors and feelings. Through engaging content designed specifically to appeal to youth with FASD or 22q11DS, the activities in Aware help youth make healthy choices and avoid the use of alcohol and other drugs. Aware also provides opportunities to practice mindfulness skills that can be generalized to real-world settings. Online materials are also provided to parents/caregivers.

click here for more information


Drugged Driving Essentials

Drugged Driving Essentials is a course for general audiences about the problem of drug-impaired driving as a legal, safety, and public health issue. This interactive self-paced online course includes 4 main sections and takes about 1 hour to complete. Almost 12 million Americans reported driving under the influence of drugs in 2016. With the national opioid crisis and increasing legalization of marijuana, this has become a priority issue for communities across America. Drugged Driving Essentials teaches learners the prevalence of the problem, how various drugs, including opioids and marijuana, affect driving skills, who are most at risk of drugged driving, and how law enforcement addresses this issue.

click here for more information

Strategic Skills for Preventing Drugged Driving

Strategic Skills for Preventing Drugged Driving is an advanced course for prevention professionals, including community coalition members, professionals in highway safety, law enforcement, and others. Over 90% of prevention specialists report needing basic training on the problem of drugged driving. Although the public health community has been working to prevent drunk driving for decades, there are comparatively few resources specific to drugged driving. This first-of-its-kind interactive self-paced online course includes 3 sections and takes about 1 hour to complete. This program teaches learners how to plan a drugged driving intervention in a data-driven way, with resources that address specific strategies. Strategic Skills uses SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework to guide learners to prevent drugged driving in their communities, with a focus on community assessment and capacity building skills for effective interventions.

click here for more information