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Chapter 7: Curriculum Implementation

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This chapter provides examples on how to use the knowledge gained about the target group to make the activities in the curriculum more meaningful to group members. It also walks the reader through the process of selecting and implementing activities using a mock target group. The chapter concludes with some general guidelines and tips on how best to implement the activities selected to achieve maximum results.

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"The keys to success in implementation… are experience, sensitivity to people's needs, flexibility in the face of changing circumstances, keeping an eye on long-term goals, and a sense of humor." (Green & Kreuter, 1999).

Applying the Knowledge Gained About the Target Group to the Implementation of Interactive Activities

  • Information regarding the substance(s) being used and/or abused; the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors regarding substance abuse; and the environmental risk factors surrounding the members of the target group, as well as the risk factors associated with school bonding and academic performance, are all summarized in the Curriculum Report and can be used in the implementation of the activities selected.

  • Information collected through interviews or existing reports on the prevalence and trends of substance use in the target group's community and school, the incidence of drug-related hospitalizations/treatments and crime in the community, as well as other information at the community level, can also be used to center the discussion portion of some activities.

  • Similarly, information collected on the youths' knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs regarding substance use can serve as a guide for the issues that should be openly discussed during some interactive activities.

  • Knowledge gained on how to enhance protective factors and facts particular to their age and developmental stage, environmental setting, and culture/ethnicity can be used to better communicate with the members of the target group.

  • Age or grade-level information can be used to weigh the depth of the discussions, present the messages, and reach youth.

  • The cultural values and traditions of group members should be incorporated into the implementation of the activity.

  • The Practical Points listed in the Curriculum Report are also a good source of tips on particular issues that should be stressed with youth exhibiting particular demographic characteristics.

  • Some examples of how the information in the reference chapters (4, 5, and 6) might be used in implementing activities can be found in the full-text version of Chapter 7 (PDF).

General Guidelines and Tips for Implementing Activities

  • Ground rules:

    • No "put-downs" will be tolerated.

    • Everyone should participate.

    • Everyone has the right to "pass."

    • All information is confidential (nothing leaves the room).

    • There should be no inappropriate self-disclosure.

    • Interrupting is not allowed.

    • Talking while others are talking is not allowed.

    • Possible consequences might be:

      • A warning on first offense
      • Sitting out one session
      • Separation from the class
      • Removal from the class

  • Confidentiality:

    • Confidentiality should be stressed to the entire group; however, participants must be warned about making inappropriate self-disclosures and that it is the leader's duty to report dangerous or illegal activity to the police.

    • All members of the group should be reminded to keep what is said in the class private.

  • Facilitating:

    • Prevention leaders play several roles during interactive activities.

      • Manager — administrating the activity and adhering to ground rules.

      • Teacher — conveying accurate information to the group.

      • Facilitator — providing direction and support for the group or activity.

      • Advocate — supporting the children or adolescents, helping solve problems, and helping unruly youth become productive contributors to the group.

      • Model — exhibiting healthy, responsible behaviors.

  • Controlling students:

    • Listen actively and be alert to all members of the group.

    • Invoke ground rules, including consequences for breaking the rules, and be prepared to enforce them.

    • Praise good behavior and ignore poor behavior, if possible.

    • Use good-natured humor.

    • Connect with the members of the group on a personal level.

  • Applying the knowledge gained about the target group:

    • With the Curriculum Report, prevention leaders are armed not only with information about the problems surrounding target group members, but also with information to enhance their protective factors; strategies to cope with stress; and facts particular to their age and developmental stage, environmental setting, and culture/ethnicity so that leaders are better prepared to guide, moderate, and conclude interactive activity sessions.

    • Leaders can use such knowledge to better communicate with members of the target group—to know how to approach them, and what or what not to expect from them.

    • Likewise, they can use age or grade-level information to plan the depth of the discussions, present the messages, and reach youth.

    • Finally, the leader can try to incorporate the target group's cultural values and traditions into the implementation of the activity.

    • The Practical Points listed at the end of each section on risk factors and race, ethnicity, and culture are also a good source of tips on particular issues to emphasize with youth possessing a particular demographic characteristic.


This Handbook and the accompanying Web-based Curriculum Guide are complementary tools designed to help prevention leaders plan for and assemble their own substance abuse prevention curricula. The Handbook describes the substance abuse problem in the United States, provides the scientific foundations of substance abuse prevention, including the importance of using interactive activities, and shows how to conduct a needs assessment of a target group and apply those findings to the assembly of a substance abuse prevention curriculum. In addition, to further enrich the knowledge and understanding of their target groups, prevention leaders have been provided with in-depth information about risk and protective factors for substance abuse. The ways gender, age, geographic location, and race/ethnicity characteristics can relate to substance abuse risk have also been described in detail. By understanding the potential interrelationship between these characteristics and substance abuse risk, prevention leaders can apply the appropriate information to their situations and to the selection and implementation of prevention activities.

By following the steps in this Handbook, prevention leaders become more knowledgeable about and invested in the process of prevention and, thus, better prepared for success. When used in combination with the Web-based Curriculum Builder the otherwise time-consuming process of identifying and selecting activities becomes a practical reality. The result of this hands-on process is a curriculum—not one taken off a shelf and forced to fit, but one that is designed to the specific needs of a target group—something unique in the field of substance abuse prevention.

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  Handbook Preface
Chapter 1: The Nature and Extent of Substance Abuse in the U.S.
Chapter 2: Foundations of Substance Abuse Prevention Curricula
Chapter 3: Needs Assessment and Curriculum Development
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Curriculum Implementation
Practical Points

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