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Guiding Good Choices (GGC)

Guiding Good Choices (GGC) is a family competency training program for parents of children in middle school that gives parents the skills needed to reduce their children’s risk for using alcohol and other drugs. The program contains five-sessions, with an average session length of 2 hours each week. Children are required to attend one session that teaches peer resistance skills. The other four sessions are solely for parents and include instruction on: (a) identification of risk factors for adolescent substance abuse and a strategy to enhance protective family processes; (b) development of effective parenting practices, particularly regarding substance use issues; (c) family conflict management; and (d) use of family meetings as a vehicle for improving family management and positive child involvement.

Specifically, Session 1 creates opportunities for involvement and interaction in the family and rewarding children’s participation in the family. Session 2 establishes clear family rules about substance use, monitoring the behavior of children, and disciplining children. Session 3 teaches children skills needed to resist peer influences to use drugs. Session 4 focuses on reducing and managing anger and family conflict. Session 5 focuses on expressing positive feelings and developing family bonds and involvement.

The certifying study, which used a randomized design with schools blocked on school size and proportion of students residing in lower income households, included families of sixth graders enrolled in 33 rural schools in 19 contiguous counties in a Midwestern state. After completion of the 5-week intervention, families were assessed approximately 6, 18, 30, 48, and 72 months following the pretest (when students were in the sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades, respectively). An additional follow-up was conducted with the target children when they had entered young adulthood, at the approximate age of 21.

Across five waves of data (through grade 10), GGC was significantly associated with a slower rate of increase in polysubstance use (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana) and general delinquency (e.g., theft, vandalism, violence) over time, compared with controls. At this four-year follow-up, GGC also reduced the rates of initiation for alcohol and marijuana. From 6th through 12th grade, GGC reduced the rate of increase in depressive symptoms, compared with controls, and showed slower overall growth in tobacco use.

Read the Program Fact Sheet

Return to Blueprints Bulletin Issue 6. April 2018.


Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development
University of Colorado Boulder
Institute of Behavioral Science
UCB 483, Boulder, CO 80309


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Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is
currently funded by Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) and historically has received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.