Our primary goal is to conduct a pilot study of the effects of a new potential strategy for
youth substance abuse prevention - science-based drug education integrated into the high
school science curriculum. Through this pilot study we propose to: (1) demonstrate that this
new strategy shows promise, and (2) estimate the effect size for the intervention.
NIDA, in recent years, has put resources into summarizing and synthesizing cutting-edge
medical and basic science research discoveries about the short-term and long-term effects of
drug use on the developing brain. One outcome of this results was the production of a
science-based drug education program entitled "The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through
the Study of Addiction." This is a 5-lesson module for high school science classes that
teaches about brain structure and function, how drugs affect and change the biology and
chemistry of the brain, how addiction occurs in the brain, and that addiction is a chronic,
recurring disease. However, the effect of receipt of this program on students' substance use
knowledge, attitudes, perceived risk of harm, and behavior has not been systematically
evaluated to date.
The specific aims of this project are:
1. To evaluate the effects of receipt of the curriculum on specific cognitive contributors
to substance use including a)students' knowledge about the short- and long-term effects
of substance use on the brain; b)perceived risk of harm from substance use; and
c)intention to use substances in the next 3 months.
2. To evaluate the effects of the intervention on actual substance use behavior. We
hypothesize that the effectiveness of this approach may be modified by the students'
level of prior and current substance use, with the effect being stronger among those
who have not already initiated use, or among those who have very low use. Therefore, we
will specifically examine whether the intervention a)prevents substance use initiation
among students who had no previous use, b)stops use among students with low lifetime
use, and c) reduces use among those with higher levels of use.
- Student in 9th/10th/11th grade science classes at Fenway High School at start of
study or student in 11th grade science classes at Boston Arts Academy at start of
- Parental permission to participate
- No parental permission to participate
- Unable to read English