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Project ALERT Is an Evidence-based Research Approach (and that matters)

In December 2016, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) recognized Project ALERT as having a “promising evidence rating” for alcohol use and disorders, cannabis use and disorders, tobacco use and disorders, and knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about substance use.


What exactly does it mean for a drug prevention program to have a promising evidence rating? And does it matter?

The short answers are: 1) it means the program is backed by evidence, and 2) yes, it matters very much. When a program has research evidence to support that it works, it means that the schools and organizations looking to use the program to curb drug use among their youth can be confident that the program is likely to work towards its intended purpose. When a program has been tested in studies known as randomized controlled trials (or “RCTs”) it means the program has undergone an evaluation that has been defined as the gold standard test for effectiveness. Though some estimates suggest that there are over 2,000 drug prevention programs available for youth, Project ALERT stands with a select number of programs that have an evidence base of rigorous RCTs on which to make its effectiveness claims.


How does Project ALERT continue to stay relevant and effective today?

RAND is committed to continued evaluation of Project ALERT and providing our community with understandable and accurate descriptions of the Project ALERT research trials. As such, we invite you to explore our updated report of the five Project ALERT RCTs in a document titled, A Summary of Project ALERT Outcome Studies on our website. A careful review of this document, coupled with reading the specific articles detailing the scientific findings from the validation studies, is an important precursor in deciding whether to use Project ALERT.


No matter which drug prevention education curriculum your school or organization decides to adopt, we encourage school administrators, teachers, organization leadership, policy makers, and parents to review its evidence base prior to program use. Individuals from these groups are invited to send any questions or comments our way or to contact us to hear more about our future research and evaluation efforts. 

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