Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Project ALERT



Implementer: RAND corporation

Program Overview: Project ALERT is a school-based program aimed at delaying initiation or preventing increases in alcohol consumption or drug use for middle school age students.

Program Design: The program curriculum is based on the Social Influence Model in an effort to educate students about why they should avoid consuming alcohol or using drugs and to help them develop resistance skills and the ability to identify and manage peer pressure. The classroom based curriculum is designed to be interactive, including group activities and role modelling. Program curriculum has been updated since the Project ALERT began, samples of current curriculum can be found here.

Evaluation: Project ALERT was originally evaluated in middle schools in urban, suburban, and rural California and Oregon. In this study the program was implemented from 1984-1986 and was evaluated using pre and post-tests and numerous follow ups. 30 schools participated in the study and were randomly assigned either to receive Project ALERT or serve as the control group, which received traditional drug and alcohol curriculum. Questionnaires collected information on beliefs, perceptions, norms, tolerance, intentions, and self-reported alcohol consumption, marijuana use, and tobacco use.

Key findings:

  • For cognitive risk factors, effects were smaller for alcohol than for tobacco or marijuana. When compared to the control group, the intervention group did show statistically significant changes in the prevalence of alcohol consumption at 15 month follow up, and reductions in tolerance of friends' alcohol consumption directly following the program1
  • The program curriculum was also found to have some positive effects on alcohol consumption. There were significant reductions in past 30 day alcohol consumption and the number of students who initiated alcohol consumption in the 3 months following the intervention2
  • Long term assessment at 36 and 60 months following the intervention indicate that program effects, especially for consumption do not persist over time3

Program Website: www.projectalert.com


1. Ellickson, P. L., Bell, R. M., & Harrison, E. R. (1993).Changing adolescent propensities to use drugs: Results from Project ALERTHealth Education Quarterly, 20(2), 227-242.

2. Ellickson, P. L. & Bell, R. M. (1990). Drug prevention in junior high: A multi-site longitudinal testScience, 247, 1299-1305.

3. Ellickson, P. L., Bell, R. M., & McGuigan, K. (1993).Preventing adolescent drug use: Long-term results of a junior high programAmerican Journal of Public Health, 83(6), 856-861.

Target Audience: High school (15-18 years old), Middle school (10-14 years)
Issues: Underage Drinking
Setting: Schools
Approach: Life Skills
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