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Project Towards No Drug Abuse

Program Description: Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND) is a classroom-based substance abuse prevention program for high school students who are at risk for drug use and violence-related behaviors. The curriculum involves twelve 40-50-minute sessions designed to be taught by teachers or health educators over a four-week period. Sessions provide instruction in motivation activities to not use drugs; skills in self-control, communication, and resource acquisition; and decision-making strategies.

Each session is instructor-led and highly structured but also encourages active participation providing opportunities for interactions among students and between students and the teacher. The teacher’s role is to actively develop and maintain peer group support in the class by modeling support, positively reinforcing it among group members, and negatively reinforcing deviant peer bonds and activities. The teacher creates and structures interactions among youth in prosocial directions.

The program is delivered universally and has been used in both traditional and alternative high schools.

Results: Blueprints has certified four studies evaluating Project TND. A summary of the study demographics is as follows (see Table 1):

  • All of the studies were conducted in high schools in southern California.
  • Two studies included alternative or continuation high schools, one study included traditional high schools, and one study included a mix of both continuation and traditional high schools.
  • Studies included roughly equal portions of male and female students (reported in binary male/female categories).
  • Race and ethnicity were mixed with the two largest proportions being White and Latino.

Study 1: Sussman et al. (1998) and Simon et al. (2002) conducted a cluster randomized trial in which 21 alternative high schools and 1,074 students were assigned to one of three conditions: 1) TND curriculum, 2) TND curriculum plus schoolwide activities such as meetings, job training, and drug-free parties, or 3) control group. At the one-year follow-up, compared to the control group, students in either program condition reported significantly greater reductions in hard drug use prevalence rates, alcohol use rates among those who used at baseline, and rates of victimization for males.

Study 2: Dent et al. (2001) conducted a cluster randomized trial in which 26 classrooms and 1,208 students in three traditional high schools were assigned to intervention or control groups. One-year follow-up results showed significant reductions for treatment compared to control students in prevalence of hard drug use and alcohol use.

Study 3: Sussman, Dent, and Stacy (2002) and Sussman et al. (2003) conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial in which they assigned 18 continuation high schools and 1,018 students to three conditions: 1) the regular health educator-led intervention, 2) a self-instructional version of the intervention, or 3) a standard control condition. At one-year post-program, students in the health educator-led condition, compared to the other conditions, reported reduced rates of hard drug, cigarette, and marijuana use; reduced rates of alcohol use among those who used at baseline; and reduced rates of weapon carrying for those who did not carry at baseline. Additionally, at the two-year follow-up, probabilities for cigarette and hard drug use were reduced for the educator-led condition.

Study 4: Sun et al. (2008) evaluated the program with a cluster randomized controlled trial that included 18 continuation and regular high schools and data on 2,064 students. Schools were randomly assigned to 1) the cognitive perception-only portion of TND, 2) the full TND program, or 3) a control group. For this study, the program was administered by both project health educators and classroom teachers, in contrast to studies 1-3 in which only project health educators delivered the curriculum. Both program conditions led to significantly lower frequency of students’ hard drug use compared to the control condition at one-year follow-up.

Cost-Benefits: In terms of cost-benefit analysis, Washington State Institute for Public Policy (December 2019) reports $5.45 in measured benefits per $1 spent in implementing Project Towards No Drug Abuse.


Study 1
Simon, T. R., Sussman, S., Dahlberg, L. L., & Dent C. W. (2002). Influence of a substance-abuse-prevention curriculum on violence-related behavior. American Journal of Health Behavior, 25, 103-110.

Sussman, S., Dent, C., Stacy, A., & Craig, S. (1998). One-year outcomes of Project Towards No Drug Abuse. Preventive Medicine, 27, 632-642.

Study 2
Dent, C., Sussman, S., & Stacy, A. (2001). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: Generalizability to a general high school sample. Preventive Medicine, 32, 514-520.

Study 3
Sussman, S., Dent, C., & Stacy, A. (2002). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: A review of the findings and future directions. American Journal of Health Behavior, 26, 354-365.

Sussman, S., Sun, P., McCuller, W. J., & Dent, C. W. (2003). Project Towards No Drug Abuse: Two-year outcomes of a trial that compares health educator delivery to self-instruction. Preventive Medicine, 37, 155-162.

Study 4
Sun, P., Sussman, S., Dent, C. W., & Rohrbach, L. A. (2008). One-year follow-up evaluation of Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND-4). Preventive Medicine, 47, 438-442.

Read the Program Fact Sheet


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.