Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

PALS: Prevention through Alternative Learning Styles



Implementer: Dayton, Ohio Middle Schools

Partners: Funding from Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services; Ohio Department of Education Office for Exceptional Children

Program Overview: PALS is a school-based program that helps teachers personalize lessons to students' learning styles in an effort to increase knowledge, enhance refusal skills, and decrease intentions related to alcohol consumption and drug use among middle school students (ages 11-15).

Program Design: This program requires teacher training, because of the need to adapt material based on the students learning style. A one day training session teaches techniques for adapting program content, information about different learning styles, the importance of resiliency and adult role models, and improving knowledge and skills. The program curriculum consists of five topics taught over ten lessons. Sample lessons can be viewed here.

Evaluation: Two studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of PALS in middle schools in Ohio. The first study looked at immediate program effects, while the second evaluated long-term effects at 12 and 24 months after the program. Both studies used pre and post tests to evaluate outcomes. Questionnaire items were drawn largely from the National Household Drug Use Survey (NHDUS).

Key findings: Studies found positive program effects immediately following the program, as well as at 12 and 24 months after.

Immediate effects1:

  • Immediately following program completion students participating in the program showed statistically significant increases in knowledge of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, learning styles, and peer pressure
  • Students who completed the program also reported statistically significant decreases in intentions to consume alcohol and to use tobacco and drugs

12 and 24 month follow up2:

  •  Students participating in pals were significantly less likely to report intentions to consume alcohol or use tobacco than students who did not participate in the PALS program.

Program Website: pals.wright.edu


1. Huber, M. J., Workman, J., Ford, J. A., Moore, D., & Mayer, T. (2009). Evaluating the Prevention through Alternative Learning Styles programJournal of Drug Education, Vol. 39(3), 239-259.

2. Workman, J. W., Moore, D., Huber, M. J., Wilson, J. F., Ford, J. A., Kinzeler, N., et al. (2012). The PALS prevention program and its long-term impact on student intentions to use alcohol, tobacco, and marijuanaJournal of Drug Education, Vol. 42(4), 469-485.

Target Audience: Middle school (10-14 years)
Issues: Underage Drinking
Setting: Schools
Approach: Life Skills
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