Schools play a critical role in prevention by acting as institutions in which youth not only spend a significant amount of time in, but also serve as a means for health education.



Youth substance use prevention is founded on the theory that by reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors, youth are less likely to use substances. Risk factors are characteristics that increase the likelihood someone will engage in unhealthy behavior. Protective factors are characteristics that help someone cope successfully with life challenges. 

Examples of Risk Factors in Schools

Include but are not limited to:

  • Academic failure
  • Lack of personal commitment to school

Examples of Protective Factors in Schools

Include but are not limited to:

  • Connected to school
  • Caring school climate
  • Student participation in extracurricular activities
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Ways to Get Involved

View upcoming events on our Calendar.

Join the School Health Task Force! More info here.

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School Resources

The categories below contain links to an array of useful resources and website. Please click on each category to view the resource lists.

  • CATCH My Breath CATCH My Breath is the only evidence-based and SAMHSA-approved school-level intervention for vaping prevention available today (Learn more here)
  • Life Skills A classroom-based universal prevention program that teaches personal self-management, social, and information and resistance skills related to drug use. (Learn more here)
  • All StarsA student-centered program designed to delay the onset of risky behaviors among youth. The curriculum includes group activities, games, art projects, video making, small group discussions, partner work, and a parent component.  (Learn more here)
  • iDecide Curriculum – MGH and the Institute for Health and Recovery have been working with the MADPH Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) on this tier 2 substance use intervention curriculum. IDECIDE (Drug Education Curriculum: Intervention, Diversion, and Empowerment), aims to better support students struggling with substance use and improve issues of equity, addressing a critically unmet need in many of our schools.  (Learn more here)
  • Smart Talk: Cannabis Prevention & Awareness Curriculum – includes 5 lessons, each providing activities, online quiz games, and worksheets in addition to presentations, resources, and other materials aimed at addressing key factors associated with youth cannabis use, including changing adolescents’ attitudes towards and misperceptions about cannabis; increasing their refusal skills to pulls of marketing and social media; reducing stress and depression which have been linked to cannabis initiation and use; improving coping skills; and decreasing intentions and actual use of all cannabis products. (Learn more here)
  • You and Me, Together Vape-Free curriculum – includes a middle and high school program that are 6 lessons, approximately 50 minutes each. It also includes a two-lesson elementary school version, approximately 50 minutes each.(Learn more here)
  • ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience) – a free online prevention education resource from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. ASPIRE delivers tobacco prevention education to teens and adolescents at a self-directed pace. (Learn more here
  • It’s Real: Teens and Mental Health – Intended for high school classes or community settings with groups of teens, ages from 14 to 18, It’s Real: Teens and Mental Health is a 45-minute program that provides young people with mental health education and resources. The program raises awareness about mental health issues, how to start a conversation about mental health, the importance of self-care, and how to reach out for help. (Learn more here)
  • Active Minds Peer-Powered Mental Health Curriculum for High Schools – empowers and prepares high school students with the knowledge and skills to start conversations about mental health. The FREE curriculum can be facilitated in classrooms or to enhance the mental health programming of Active Minds’ high school chapters or other student groups. High schools do not need to have an Active Minds chapter to request the curriculum. (Learn more here)
  • Prescription Drug Safety: Know the truth (Resource link)
  • NIAAA’s Underage Drinking Resources for Middle School (Resource link)
  • Other Education Resources
    • Substance-related Resources for Educators (Resource link)
    • How drugs impact the brain curricula/resources (Resource link)
    • My Life. My Quit. Resources for Educators (Resource link)
    • Drug Facts Challenge! Jeopardy game for 1 class (Resource link)
    • Tobacco Education Resources for Educators (Resource link)
    • “Nurturing My Mental & Emotional Health” – 25 minute Classroom activity (Resource link)
    • “Is This Legit? Accessing Valid and Reliable Health Information” – 35 minute health literacy lesson plan (Resource link)
    • NIDA Lesson Plan and Activity Finder  (Resource link)
    • Classroom Resources on Drug Effects 
      • Lessons, activities, and drug facts to educate teens about the effects and consequences of drug use. (Resource link)
    • Evidence-Based Program Guidance for Substance Use Prevention Education in School (Resource link)
    • Evidence-Based Program Guide: “Prevention Matters” Proven Programs to Help Schools Address Substance Use (Resource link)
Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health
  • CASEL Guide to Elevate Student Voice (Resource link)
  • When Schools Go Dark, School Counselors Shine: School Counseling During a Global Pandemic (Resource link)
  • Classroom Well-Being Information and Strategies for Educators (WISE) Implementation Support Series (Resource link)
  • Back to School After COVID-19: Supporting Student and Staff Mental Health Toolkit (Resource link)
  • National School Mental Health Best Practices: Implementation Guidance Modules for States, Districts, and Schools  (Resource link)
  • The MHTTC’s School Mental Health Initiative  (Resource link)
  • The SHAPE System, developed by the NCSMH at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is a free, private, web-based portal that offers a virtual workspace for school mental health teams at school, district, and state levels to document, track, and advance quality and sustainability improvement goals as well as assess trauma responsiveness. The SHAPE System also offers access to free action planning, mapping, program implementation resources and other critical tools to advance comprehensive school mental health systems. 
  • MA School of Mental Health Consortium – MISSION: Improve implementation of school mental health
  • Trauma-Sensitive Schools Training Package (Resource link)
  • The CALM Microaggression Repair Tool (Resource link)
  • CopeCode Club Activity Kit (Resource link)
  • Empowering Educators 
    • A series of free resources designed to support educators in helping their students engage in effective, courageous conversations about race and social justice. Recommended for anyone who wants to support deeper conversations about race and social justice! (Resource link)
  • Menu of Trauma-Informed Programs for Schools (Resource link)
  • CASEL Report: Respected Perspectives of Youth on High School & Social and Emotional Learning (Resource link)
  • Universal Behavioral Health Screening Modules (Resource link)
  • Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools (Resource link)
School Health
    • A website from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Addiction Services that provides training and information for health professionals to conduct SBIRT services, with specific guidance for utilization in school settings. (Resource link)
    • Brief Intervention Reference Sheet (Resource link)
    • Example of SBIRT in practice (Video)
    • Brief Intervention for Adolescent Alcohol and Drug Use Manual (Resource link)
  • 8 Elements of a Vape Free School (Resource link)
  • Get Smart, Get Help, Get Safe. 
    • This training toolkit addresses teenage dating abuse.  Specifically, it is designed for trainers to assist specialized instructional support personnel (e.g., school psychologists, social workers, school nurses, guidance counselors) in identifying, assessing, effectively intervening in, and preventing teenage dating abuse. (Resource link)
  • Creating Policies to Support Healthy Schools: Policymaker, Educator, and Student Perspectives (Resource link)
  • Creating Safer Spaces in Schools for LGBTQ Youth (Resource link)
  • Bullying Prevention Educator Toollkit (Resource link)
  • Teen Intervene: A Brief Intervention for Adolescent Substance Abuse (Resource link)
  • Red Ribbon Week Toolkit (Resource link)
  • Prevention in Action: Positive Ripple Effect of Restorative School Policy (Webinar Link)
  • For resources on restorative practices and restorative justice, visit our Policy and Research page.
  • How to Talk to Teens About Performance-Enhancing Substances
    • A resource to provide parents, educators, coaches, and health providers with current information about teen use of performance-enhancing substances, and how to start conversations about them. (Resource link)
  • Substance and Sports flyer (Resource link)
  • Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association  
  • Substance Free Athletics: Presentations and resources for athletes, parents, coaches (Resource link)
Support for LBGTQ+ Youth
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