Based upon more than 20 years of research by the Drug Resistance Strategies Project about why our youth use drugs, D.A.R.E. America collaborated with Penn State University and Arizona State University to create keepin’ it REAL, a state-of-the-art, middle school substance abuse prevention program.
Grounded in cultural norms, the program teaches youth how to live drug-free lives confidently, drawing on the strengths of the students, their families, and communities.
Like the elementary school curriculum, the acronym “REAL” is the central message of the curriculum and teaches youth four ways to refuse drug offers — Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave. These strategies help youth stay away from drugs by preparing them to act decisively and responsibly in difficult situations.
Evidence Based; Proven Efficacious
The curriculum is evidence-based and has been evaluated in a randomized controlled trial and found to be efficacious. The 10-lesson middle-school curriculum is highly interactive, involves multiple media materials that youth find engaging, and, like the elementary school curriculum, is based on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) principles that fit well with current research and practice in teaching middle-school youth.
The rigorous, scientific evaluations of the D.A.R.E. keepin’ it REAL curriculum for students in grades six through nine, show students completing the course evidenced a:
- 32% to 44% reduction in marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use;
- 29% to 34% decrease in intent to accept substances; and
- Reduction and cessation of substance use.