LifeSkills Training (LST) is a three-year universal substance abuse and violence prevention program designed to be implemented with middle/junior high school students. LST consists of 15 core sessions in Level 1, 10 booster sessions in Level 2, and 5 booster sessions in Level 3. Additional violence prevention lessons also are available for each level (3, 2, and 2 sessions). Units are taught sequentially and delivered primarily by classroom teachers. LST provides students with training in personal self-management, social skills, and resistance skills specifically related to drug use. Skills are taught using instruction, demonstration, feedback, reinforcement, and practice.
Certified trainers provide site-based training, and ongoing technical assistance and Training of Trainer (TOT) workshops also are available. Program materials include a teacher’s manual and consumable student guides for each level, stress management CD, and smoking and biofeedback DVD. Each unit in the curriculum has a specific major goal, measurable student objectives, lesson information and key concepts, identified teaching techniques, classroom activities, and suggested enrichment techniques. Additional resources available on the LST website include unit quizzes, lesson support slides, fidelity checklists, program evaluation tools (pre-and post-test), and activities and self-checks designed for students.
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 on tobacco, alcohol, marijuana use and violence, but also provide evidence of its long-term effectiveness on illicit drug use, with several studies providing 5-6 year follow-up data, and one study providing 10-year follow-up data with reductions in HIV risk behaviors. Additionally, 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.
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. In terms of cost-benefit analysis, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (May 2017) reports $17.25 in measured benefits per $1 spent in implementing LST.
Return to Blueprints Bulletin Issue 6. April 2018.