Intervention Summary

Drugs: True Stories

Drugs: True Stories is a multimedia intervention designed to prevent drug use among young people in grades 5-12 by positively changing the attitudes of youth and their parents and other caregivers in regard to the use of drugs. The intervention features a 30-minute video, which includes two vignettes of teenagers telling their personal stories to illustrate the harms associated with drug use, how teenagers and their families can work together to help teenagers abstain from drug use, possibilities for teenagers to recover from drug dependence, and how making smart choices can save lives. Program content includes the following topics: risks of drug experimentation, denial by the user and family members, addiction, recovery, and the benefits of avoiding drug use. The video is accompanied by a discussion guide, which is designed to provoke candid conversation regarding drug use and offers questions for youth, parents, and caregivers who are participating in the program. The intervention can be delivered in its entirety or in segments (e.g., three 50-minute sessions). A 1-day training on program implementation is available.

The study reviewed for this summary assessed only the video, without the discussion guide. In addition, the study reported results for youth only.

Descriptive Information

Areas of Interest Substance use disorder prevention
1: Behavioral intentions regarding illicit drug use
Outcome Categories Drugs
Ages 13-17 (Adolescent)
18-25 (Young adult)
Genders Male
Races/Ethnicities Data were not reported/available.
Settings School
Geographic Locations Suburban
Implementation History Drugs: True Stories has been implemented by more than 5,000 middle and high schools and youth, parenting, and substance abuse organizations in all 50 States and in Australia, Canada, and Germany.
NIH Funding/CER Studies Partially/fully funded by National Institutes of Health: No
Evaluated in comparative effectiveness research studies: Yes
Adaptations No population- or culture-specific adaptations of the intervention were identified by the developer.
Adverse Effects No adverse effects, concerns, or unintended consequences were identified by the developer.
IOM Prevention Categories Universal

Quality of Research

Documents Reviewed

The documents below were reviewed for Quality of Research. The research point of contact can provide information regarding the studies reviewed and the availability of additional materials, including those from more recent studies that may have been conducted.

Study 1

Division on Addictions. Evaluating the promise of a drug education video. Summary report: Drugs: True Stories. Medford, MA: Author.


Outcome 1: Behavioral intentions regarding illicit drug use
Description of Measures Behavioral intentions regarding illicit drug use were assessed using 3 items from the Helping Youth Make Smart Choices Survey, which was developed for the study. Using the self-report survey, participants indicated the likelihood that they "will use illicit drugs this weekend," "have a family discussion about teenage illicit drug use this coming week," and "have a discussion with friends about teenage illicit drug use this coming week." Response options included "not at all likely," "somewhat likely," and "extremely likely." Assessments occurred immediately before (pretest) and after (posttest) the intervention.
Key Findings Students attending schools in Minnesota or Massachusetts were randomly assigned to view one of two 30-minute videos, either Drugs: True Stories or Boys on Bullying. From pre- to posttest, the percentage of students who reported that they were somewhat or extremely likely to have a family discussion about teenage illicit drug use in the coming week increased for those who viewed Drugs: True Stories (p < .05) and decreased for those who viewed Boys on Bullying (p < .05). The difference between conditions was significant (p < .05).
Studies Measuring Outcome Study 1
Study Designs Experimental
Quality of Research Rating 2.3 (0.0-4.0 scale)

Study Populations

The following populations were identified in the studies reviewed for Quality of Research.

Study Age Gender Race/Ethnicity
Study 1 13-17 (Adolescent)
18-25 (Young adult)
59.7% Female
40.3% Male
Data not reported/available

Quality of Research Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the Quality of Research for an intervention's reported results using six criteria:

  1. Reliability of measures
  2. Validity of measures
  3. Intervention fidelity
  4. Missing data and attrition
  5. Potential confounding variables
  6. Appropriateness of analysis

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Quality of Research.

Outcome Reliability
of Measures
of Measures
Fidelity Missing
1: Behavioral intentions regarding illicit drug use 1.8 2.8 1.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.3

Study Strengths

The survey has face and predictive validity and appears to be culturally appropriate for a wide range of students. The survey was constructed so that it was not possible for participants to determine the video that was under evaluation. Data were analyzed to assess baseline similarities between participants who were eliminated from the study because of data inconsistencies and participants who were included; no baseline differences were found between these two groups. Attrition was low, and there was a minimal amount of missing data. Participants were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the active-intervention comparison group. Confounding variables were appropriately controlled (e.g., responses were anonymous and confidential; pre- and posttests were linked through identification numbers). Analyses are well delineated for the study design.

Study Weaknesses

There is inadequate documentation of reliability and construct validity, and the survey has not been pilot tested for use with the groups targeted for this study. No outside assessment was conducted to confirm that both treatment and comparison interventions were delivered with fidelity. It was not determined whether there were differences between students who consented to participate in the study and those who did not. No follow-up analyses were conducted to determine whether the intervention had lasting effects beyond the immediate impact after delivery of the intervention. It was noted that because multiple sites were used to obtain a sufficient sample, there were not enough cases per site to confidently examine differences among sites.

Readiness for Dissemination

Materials Reviewed

The materials below were reviewed for Readiness for Dissemination. The implementation point of contact can provide information regarding implementation of the intervention and the availability of additional, updated, or new materials.

Blake Works, Inc. Drugs: True Stories [DVD]. Gloucester, MA: Author.

Blake Works, Inc. Drugs: True Stories discussion guide. Gloucester, MA: Author.

Blake Works, Inc. Drugs: True Stories facilitator's PowerPoint [DVD]. Gloucester, MA: Author.

Blake Works, Inc. Drugs: True Stories train the trainer facilitator workbook. Gloucester, MA: Author.

Blake Works, Inc. Drugs: True Stories train the trainer participant workbook. Gloucester, MA: Author.

Readiness for Dissemination Ratings by Criteria (0.0-4.0 scale)

External reviewers independently evaluate the intervention's Readiness for Dissemination using three criteria:

  1. Availability of implementation materials
  2. Availability of training and support resources
  3. Availability of quality assurance procedures

For more information about these criteria and the meaning of the ratings, see Readiness for Dissemination.

Training and Support
Quality Assurance
3.3 3.8 1.5 2.8

Dissemination Strengths

This program is an easily implemented intervention that can be delivered in a variety of settings and in a flexible number of sessions, depending on the needs of implementers. The program's video features a question-and-answer segment with two addiction experts that can be used in various combinations over multiple sessions, and the accompanying discussion guide includes icons that indicate whether questions are for children or parents. The developer provides training on the content of the program, which includes role-playing to facilitate skill building among implementers. The developer also provides implementers with additional tips for leading an effective discussion while incorporating the key lessons from the program. The developer provides a quiz to test what implementers have learned. Well-scripted program materials and comprehensive guidance concerning group facilitation heighten the program's quality assurance.

Dissemination Weaknesses

No written guidance is given for adapting the intervention for use in community workshops or homes. There is no information on how parents, whether as in-home implementers or as a support mechanism for their children, should discuss the program content with their children. There are no specific instructions on how parents access training in order to implement the program at home with their children. It is unclear if, or how, the classroom activities in the Train the Trainer Participant Workbook should be used during implementation. No fidelity monitoring or outcome measures are available. The sole quality assurance tool (a quiz for implementers in the training materials) lacks guidance on administration.


The cost information below was provided by the developer. Although this cost information may have been updated by the developer since the time of review, it may not reflect the current costs or availability of items (including newly developed or discontinued items). The implementation point of contact can provide current information and discuss implementation requirements.

Item Description Cost Required by Developer
Drugs: True Stories (DVD) (includes the discussion guide) $99.99 each Yes
1-day training Varies depending on training location and number of participants No

Additional Information

Discounts are available for bulk orders, and price quotes are available upon request.