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LifeSkills Training (LST)

Blueprints Program Rating: Model Plus

A classroom-based, 3-year, middle school substance abuse prevention program to prevent teenage drug and alcohol abuse, adolescent tobacco use, violence and other risk behaviors. The life skills curriculum teaches students self-management skills, social skills, and drug awareness and resistance skills.

Program Outcomes

  • Alcohol
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Sexual Risk Behaviors
  • STIs
  • Tobacco
  • Violence

Program Type

  • Alcohol Prevention and Treatment
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Training
  • Drug Prevention/Treatment
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Skills Training
  • Social Emotional Learning

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)


  • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Model Plus
  • Crime Solutions: Effective
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • SAMHSA: 3.9-4.0
  • Social Programs That Work: Top Tier

Program Information Contact

National Health Promotion Associates, Inc.
711 Westchester Avenue, 3rd Floor
White Plains, NY 10604
(914) 421-2525
(914) 421-2007 fax

Program Developer/Owner

  • Gilbert J. Botvin, Ph.D.
  • Weill Cornell Medical College

Brief Description of the Program

LifeSkills Training (LST) is a classroom-based universal prevention program designed to prevent adolescent tobacco, alcohol, marijuana use, and violence. LST contains 30 sessions to be taught over three years (15, 10, and 5 sessions), and additional violence prevention lessons also are available each year (3, 2, and 2 sessions). Three major program components teach students: (1) personal self-management skills, (2) social skills, and (3) information and resistance skills specifically related to drug use. Skills are taught using instruction, demonstration, feedback, reinforcement, and practice.

See: Full Description


The numerous evaluations of Life Skills Training (LST) cover multiple outcomes and follow-up periods. Early studies focused on tobacco use, followed by studies focused on alcohol and marijuana use, polydrug use, and illicit drug use other than marijuana. More recent studies examined the effectiveness of LST on HIV/AIDS risk behaviors, risky driving, and violence and delinquency. Studies testing LST have not only demonstrated short-term effects, but also provide evidence of its long-term effectiveness, with several studies providing 5-6 year follow-up data, and one study providing 10-year follow-up data.

  • Tobacco use: Across several studies, short-term effects show that the intervention reduces smoking among intervention group participants, relative to controls, up to 87% (Botvin et al., 1983). In a long-term follow-up study, findings indicated that the intervention group had a mean rate of monthly smoking that was lower by 28% than the control group (.21 versus .29) at the 6-year follow-up (Spoth et al., 2008).
  • Alcohol use: Across studies, short-term effects show that the intervention reduces alcohol use among intervention group participants, relative to controls. At 1-year follow-up, one study found that the relative reduction rate (percentage difference in the proportion of new users in LST relative to Controls) was 4.1% (Spoth et al., 2002). In another study, the intervention group engaged in 50% less binge drinking relative to controls at the 1- and 2-year follow-up assessments (Botvin et al., 2001a).
  • Marijuana use: Several studies have shown short- and long-term effects on marijuana, with one long-term study showing a 66% reduction among intervention group participants relative to controls (Botvin et al., 1990).
  • Polydrug use: In one study (Spoth et al., 2002), the intervention group had a mean current polydrug use at the one-year follow-up that was lower by 27% than the control group (.24 versus .33). In another study (Botvin et al., 1995), prevalence of weekly use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana at the 6-year follow-up was 66% lower among intervention youth relative to control participants at the end of high school.
  • Illicit drug use: At 12th grade (6-year) follow-up, the LST group was significantly lower in lifetime methamphetamine use than the control group (Spoth et al., 2006). In another long-term study, with a non-random subsample of the original cohort, the LST group had lower rates of overall illicit drug use, illicit drug use other than marijuana, heroin and other narcotics, and hallucinogens, relative to the control group condition, at the 6.5 year follow-up assessment (Botvin et al., 2000). LST significantly reduced opiod use in the 12th grade, compared to controls (Crowley et al. 2014)
  • Violence and delinquency: At 3-month follow-up, the intervention group showed reductions of 32% in delinquency in the past year, 26% in high-frequency fighting in the past year, and 36% in high frequency delinquency in the past year (Botvin et al., 2006).
  • HIV risk behaviors: 10-year follow-up results, with only 37% of the original baseline sample, showed significant long-term LST prevention effects for HIV risk (having multiple sex partners, having intercourse when drunk or high, and recent high risk substance use) (Griffin et al., 2006).
  • Risky driving: At 6-year follow-up, the intervention group had 20% with violations compared to 25% in the control group (Griffin et al., 2004).
  • Trends in substance use initiation: Over two years of implementation, the rate of increase in substance use initiation was lower for the treatment condition than the control.

Program Effects on Risk and Protective Factors:

  • Knowledge and attitudes: Across several studies, the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement than the control group in life skills knowledge, substance use knowledge, and perceived adult substance use, both at short-term and longer-term follow-ups.
  • Trends in substance use expectancy: Over two years of implementation, the rate of decrease in negative expectancies surrounding substance use was smaller in the treatment condition than the control (Trudeau, 2003), although this difference in trends was only marginally significant.
  • Trends in intention to refuse substances: Over two years of implementation, the rate of decrease in intentions to refuse substances was significantly smaller in the treatment condition than the control (Trudeau, 2003).

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Research indicates that LST is generalizable to a variety of ethnic groups, and has been proven effective with White, middle-class, suburban and rural youth, as well as economically-disadvantaged urban minority (African American and Hispanic/Latino) youth.

Trudeau et al. (2003) found that the intervention effect on intention to refuse substances was stronger for female students than male students.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Individual: Early initiation of drug use, Favorable attitudes towards drug use*, Stress, Substance use
  • Peer: Interaction with antisocial peers, Peer rewards for antisocial behavior, Peer substance use
  • Neighborhood/Community: Laws and norms favorable to drug use/crime
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Clear standards for behavior*, Coping Skills*, Perceived risk of drug use*, Problem solving skills*, Refusal skills*, Skills for social interaction*

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: LifeSkills Training (LST) Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

LifeSkills Training facilitators attend a one- or two-day training. While the two-day training is preferred, different models have been developed to cover all aspects of the training in a shorter period of time in order to accommodate the needs of the site, and one-day trainings have also produced successful outcomes. Trainings enable participants to familiarize themselves with the program and its rationale, receive an overview of evaluation research, and have the opportunity to learn and practice the skills needed to successfully implement the prevention program. Current training models facilitate interactive learning and incorporate the use of the different skills training techniques: demonstration, feedback, reinforcement, and practice.

Training Certification Process

LST Trainer Certification Process:

Version: Training of Trainers (TOT) Workshop
This workshop is provided to state or regional entities currently disseminating the LifeSkills Training program and who meet National Health Promotion Associates, Inc. guidelines for the development of statewide or regional teacher training resources.

Audience: Participants in the LifeSkills Training of Trainers workshop must meet the following minimum eligibility qualifications:

  • One year teaching any level of the elementary and/or middle school LST curriculum and,
  • Participation in an NHPA-sponsored LST Teacher Training, or,
  • Participation in an equivalent teaching and training experience in a research/evidence-based, prevention education program.


  • NHPA LifeSkills Trainers (TOT) Manual
  • LST Level I, II, III Teacher’s Manuals and Student Guides
  • Training handouts including research abstracts

Time: Total training time: 15 hours over two days. Training schedules are customized to meet the needs of the training sponsor.
Synopsis: The LifeSkills Training (LST) TOT is designed to prepare trainers to deliver all levels of LST Teacher Training workshop.

At the conclusion of the TOT training participants will be able to:

  • conduct LST Teacher Training Workshops based on the NHPA developed training model for each curriculum level.
  • provide technical assistance to schools and communities in the implementation of LST.
  • apply the principles and practices of adult learning theory to adult learning groups.

This is immersion training, in which participants learn and practice teaching skills and training content in groups, through active participation in delivering the teaching and learning activities.

Program Includes:

  • National Health Promotion Associates, Inc. (NHPA) Certified LifeSkills Trainer of Trainers workshop for ten (10) – fifteen (15) participants
  • Participant Materials

Cost: $ 1,000 per participant.

On-site TOTs would assume responsibility for the NHPA Trainers’ expenses (hotel, airfare, and per diem charges), which are additional. The training sponsor is responsible for costs associated with the training site, equipment rental, and promotion.
For a complete description of the materials and services included in the per participant cost, please contact NHPA.

Price does not include curriculum materials.

NHPA LST Trainer Certification: When the above steps have been completed by TOT participants, they are then eligible to become a part of the NHPA LST National Cadre. The NHPA National Cadre of Trainers include individuals who are identified or selected by our staff Lead Trainer. The individuals will be selected based on experience, ability and geographical need. After the LST National Cadre candidate is chosen, he/she will be required to complete an internship with one of our most senior lead NHPA LST Trainers. The individual will be qualified to train directly for NHPA when this final criterion has been met.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The LST program has been evaluated in 18 cohorts of students over the past 30 years, with results published in over 32 peer reviewed publications since 1980. The first four studies published from 1980-1983 focused on cigarette smoking; subsequent studies looked at smoking as well as other problem behaviors such as alcohol and marijuana use, other illicit drugs, violence and delinquency, HIV risk behavior, and risky driving. While early studies focused primarily on suburban, White, middle-class populations, evaluations since 1984 have examined additional populations, including rural White youth and urban, economically-disadvantaged minority youth. Random assignment has been used in all studies, comparing one or more treatment groups (e.g., different providers or provider training conditions) to a control condition. These studies have examined a wide range of LST intervention effects, including short term (up to one year) and longer term (beyond one year) reductions in substance use and initiation rates, the effects of the program in low and high fidelity implementation settings, implementation by a variety of facilitators, as well as effects on different populations of youth. Several studies provide long-term (5-year) follow-up data demonstrating LST effects at the end of high school and one study provided long-term (10-year) follow-up data demonstrating prevention effects among young adults. In addition to studies conducted by Botvin and his colleagues at Cornell, the effectiveness of LST is supported by several independent evaluations.

Peer Implementation Sites

Linda Williams
Director of Title I and Special Student Programs
Portage Township Schools
6240 US Hwy. 6
Portage, IN 46368


Botvin, G. J., Baker, E., Dusenbury, L., Botvin, E. M., & Diaz, T. (1995). Long-term follow-up results of a randomized drug abuse prevention trial in a white middle-class population. Journal of the American Medical Association, 273, 1106-1112.

Botvin, G. J., Baker, E., Dusenbury, L., Tortu, S., & Botvin, E. M. (1990). Preventing adolescent drug abuse through a multimodal cognitive-behavioral approach: Results of a three-year study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 437-446.

Botvin, G. J., Dusenbury, L., Baker, E., James-Ortiz, S., Botvin, E. M., & Kerner, J. (1992). Smoking prevention among urban minority youth: Assessing effects on outcome and mediating variables. Health Psychology, 11, 290-299.

Botvin, G. J., & Eng, A. (1980). A comprehensive school-based smoking prevention program. Journal of School Health, 50, 209-213.

Botvin, G. J., Eng, A., & Williams, C. L. (1980). Preventing the onset of cigarette smoking through life skills training. Preventive Medicine, 9, 135-143.

Botvin, G. J., Epstein, J. A., Baker, E. Diaz, T., & Ifill-Williams, M. (1997). School-based drug abuse prevention with inner-city youth. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, 6, 5-19.

Botvin, G. J., Griffin, K. W., Diaz, T., & Ifill-Williams, M. (2001a). Drug abuse prevention among minority adolescents: Posttest and one-year follow-up of a school-based preventive intervention. Prevention Science, 2, 1-13.

Botvin, G. J., Griffin, K. W., Diaz, T., & Ifill-Williams, M. (2001b). Preventing binge drinking during early adolescence: One- and two-year follow-up of a school-based preventive intervention. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 15, 360-365.

Botvin, G. J., Griffin, K. W., Diaz, T., Scheier, L. M., Williams, C., & Epstein, J. A. (2000). Preventing illicit drug use in adolescents: Long-term follow-up data from a randomized control trial of a school population. Addictive Behaviors, 25, 769-774.

Botvin, G. J., Griffin, K. W., & Nichols, T. R. (2006). Preventing youth violence and delinquency through a universal school-based prevention approach. Prevention Science, 7, 403-408.

Griffin, K. W., Botvin, G. J., & Nichols, T. R. (2004). Long-term follow-up effects of a school-based drug abuse prevention program on adolescent risky driving. Prevention Science, 5, 207-212.

Griffin, K. W., Botvin, G. J., & Nichols, T. R. (2006). Effects of a school-based drug abuse prevention program for adolescents on HIV risk behaviors in young adulthood. Prevention Science, 7, 103-112.

Mackillop, J., Ryabchenko, K. A., & Lisman, S. A. (2006). Life Skills Training outcomes and potential mechanisms in a community implementation: A preliminary investigation. Substance Use and Misuse, 41, 1921-1935.

Spoth, R. L., Clair, S., Shin, C., & Redmond, C. (2006). Long-term effects of universal preventive interventions on methamphetamine use among adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 160, 876-882.

Spoth, R. L., Randall, G., Trudeau, L., Shin, C., & Redmond, C. (2008). Substance use outcomes 5 1/2 years past baseline for partnership-based family school preventive interventions. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 96, 57-68.

Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., Trudeau, L., & Shin, C. (2002). Longitudinal substance initiation outcomes for a universal preventive intervention combining family and school programs. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16, 129-134.

St. Pierre, T. L., & Kaltreider, D. (1992). Drug prevention in a community setting: A longitudinal study of the relative effectiveness of a three-year primary prevention program in Boys and Girls Clubs across the nation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 20, 673-706.

Zollinger, T. W., Saywell, R. M., Cuegge, C. M., Wooldridge, J. S., Cummings, S. F., & Caine, V. A. (2003). Impact of the Life Skills Training curriculum on middle school students' tobacco use in Marion County, Indiana, 1997-2000. Journal of School Health, 20, 338-346.