School Outreach

The Division on Addiction has a long history of partnering successfully with local and regional school districts in Massachusetts and beyond to develop, deliver, and evaluate innovative addiction-related curricula.

For instance, during 2007, we conducted two separate, controlled evaluations of the video component of the Alcohol: True Stories program. Alcohol: True Stories is an underage drinking prevention and education program created by Family Health Productions, Inc. This multimedia toolkit features a 20 minute videotape hosted by Matt Damon. The video follows four youths’ experiences with alcohol and includes an Educator’s Guide with classroom handout activities, and a Family Viewing Guide. The video’s design and the accompanying discussion guides are intended to help youths internalize the underage drinking prevention messages of the video and help them think critically about their own decision-making pertaining to alcohol use. Our evaluations, conducted with community members in Framingham, MA and middle school students in Gloucester, MA, demonstrated that Alcohol: True Stories is an underage drinking prevention “program with promise.”

Earlier, with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we partnered with the town of Billerica and the Merrimack Valley Educational Collaborative to develop an Addiction Science Curriculum with supplementary visual materials for students in 6th-12th grade. More specifically, with funding from a Science Education Drug Abuse Partnership award (SEDAP) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we developed a 7-module curriculum that taught students about addiction within the context of the scientific method. As in the proposed project, we first established an advisory panel composed of teachers, curriculum developers, parents, students, and community members, as well as Harvard Medical School faculty. An empirical needs assessment with 1500+ middle school students in Billerica and Lowell, MA also guided our work.   The advisory panel and its workgroups developed the Addiction Science Curriculum, which used the scientific method, hypothesis testing and case study analysis as the major pedagogical tools to teach youth about the science related to drug abuse and drug addiction and the impact of drug abuse and addiction on society.

We developed Facing the Odds: The Mathematics of Gambling and Other Risks, a middle school curriculum on probability, statistics, and number sense, to increase young people’s mathematics literacy while concurrently preventing or reducing their risk of engaging in gambling at an early age.  Facing the Odds presents mathematical material in an integrated, engaging style.  Hands‑on activities encourage students to internalize specific mathematical concepts so they become relevant the students’ lives outside of the classroom. The State of Louisiana adopted this curriculum for its statewide education program in response to new legislation requiring gambling curricula in the public and private school systems.  Division on Addiction staff members trained Louisiana teachers on this curriculum during February 2001, and both teachers and students provided encouraging feedback.