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Reflections on Another Successful Year of Project ALERT

Dear Project ALERT community,

As the 2016-2017 school year comes to a close, we wanted to take the opportunity to thank our community for your support of our program and to share some of our past-year accomplishments.

We published our updated supplement and several newsletter articles addressing the growing issue of adolescent opioid use

With increased usage and recent passing of recreational use laws in several states, we published our marijuana supplement last year. Due to highly publicized media reports about a “heroin epidemic” among adolescents and teenagers in the United States, we dedicated efforts this year to provide educators and their students with resources, articles, and fact sheets about heroin and opioids. We featured four articles on opiates (including prescription painkillers) in our newsletter and created the supplemental guide, Heroin and Other Opioids: Information and Facts for Educators and Youth.

Based on feedback from our users that opioids are becoming an increasing concern in their communities, we are also now pilot testing a supplemental lesson targeting opioid use. Findings from that pilot test will be shared with our community in the next few months.

We published our updated supplement, Club and Other Drugs, to provide a resource for teachers and students on risky drugs associated with party scenes

Negative effects of party drugs, such as ecstasy, methamphetamine, DXM, LSD, stimulants, sedatives, and steroids, are widely recognized among educators and practitioners. It’s been established that these drugs can be very detrimental to youth, with use often doubling and tripling from 8th grade to 12th grade. Though Project ALERT content is focused on the drugs used most commonly by youth, the resistance skills taught in the program translate to prevention of all substances. To address other drugs beyond the targets of alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes/e-cigarettes, and opioids, we updated our supplemental guide, “Club and Other Drugs: Information and Facts for Educators and Youth” to provide a helpful resource for Project ALERT teachers and students for addressing these drugs within Project ALERT lessons.

We conducted a thorough review of our manual and website and made numerous content edits and navigation enhancements

We published an update of the lesson plans for all 14 Project ALERT sessions (the 11 core and the 3 booster lessons). Relying on sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and Monitoring the Future, the full instructional manual now contains the most up-to-date e-cigarette and marijuana information available. We also made the manual accessible as a single PDF for easier download from our website. Additionally, all supplemental Power Point slides used for implementing each lesson as well as student take-home handouts have been updated with current facts and information and a more current feel.

The website received a major overhaul as well, with a new FAQ page, a Getting Started overview page for new users, updated and accurate resources and links, and a more intuitive format to help users more easily locate videos and supplemental guides.

We reviewed and revised our Spanish manual, updating our Proyecto ALERTA program with the most current information available on e-cigarettes and marijuana

Our Spanish manual now includes the latest information on e-cigarettes and marijuana, including the most current facts and data on recreational marijuana legalization, as well as updated prevalence of use data available from Monitoring the Future. We have also made updates to the graphic layout to be more in line with the English versions. Our first Spanish supplement on marijuana is scheduled for release this fall.

We conducted a large-scale survey effort to better understand the extensiveness and reach of Project ALERT as well as the needs of our community partners

To meet the diverse and increasing needs of our user base, we evaluated the current state of Project ALERT to better understand the extensiveness and reach of the program. During the winter and spring of 2017, we conducted a large-scale survey effort, collecting data from over 1,000 respondents about how Project ALERT is being implemented in their community settings. Results from these findings are being compiled for presentation in a future newsletter.

We've continued to watch Project ALERT grow both nationally and globally

A review of our user base indicates that we have over 35,000 unique adult educators that have been certified to teach Project ALERT. We have certificated adult educators in all 50 states in nearly 3,400 middle schools throughout the United States. We continue to grow our user base at a rapid rate; in 2016 alone we added over 1,300 new certified users.  Both interest and implementation of Project ALERT are growing internationally, with new community partners based in Chile.

As always, we are available to consult and answer any questions you may have

We continue to be available for any assistance you may need by phone at 1-800-ALERT-10 and by email. Please visit our website and Facebook page for ongoing, updated information, and interesting new topics. We also offer in-person training for a fee if your school is interested.

Thank you again for your continued support of Project ALERT. We are honored to be one of the top publicly available drug prevention education programs in the United States. We look forward to continuing to work with our community partners in the effort to prevent drug use among our youth.

 

Sincerely,

Eric Pedersen

Director, Project ALERT

Behavioral Scientist

RAND Corporation

 

 

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