Recommended program

Climate Schools: Alcohol & Cannabis Module

  • Alcohol and Cannabis Module
Targeted Drugs: ,

This resource is supported by a systematic review.


The Climate Schools programs are managed by the Climate Schools team at the Matilda Centre, University of Sydney. 
Click below to be directed to the Climate Schools website for information on accessing the programs.

Access Climate Schools


Climate Schools was developed by researchers currently based at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, Australia, formerly based at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), School of Psychiatry, and the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use at UNSW Sydney.


This curriculum-based online program is designed to be administered by teachers within classrooms. The program involves 6 × 45-minute lessons, each with two components:

  • A 15-minute computer-based component
  • Teacher delivered classroom activities.

No specialist teacher training is required.  Booster sessions are also available. This module is ideally delivered 6 months to 1 year after the Climate Schools: Alcohol Module. 


The Climate Schools: Alcohol and Cannabis Module was developed for 13-14 year olds and aims to prevent and reduce alcohol and cannabis use and related harms. Designed to be implemented within the school health curriculum, Climate Schools is based on a social influence approach to prevention and uses cartoon storylines to engage and maintain student interest and involvement.

Students follow six episodes of an online cartoon-based drama about teenagers and their experiences. Through the storyline, students learn about short and long term consequences of alcohol use, cannabis and the law, acute and chronic harms associated with cannabis use, cannabis and mental health, identifying problematic use in friends and where to seek help. Each episode ends with a short quiz to assess and consolidate learning. The class and homework activities are designed to reinforce the material taught in the cartoon and encourage students to apply the preventative messages and skills. Feedback indicates that teachers and students enjoy the program, and implementation within the classroom environment is highly feasible. 

Training and Costs

Access to Climate Schools is currently FREE to help support school staff, parents and young people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note there is usually an annual subscription cost of $250-$950. If your school already has an active paid subscription, the subscription expiry date will be extended to account for this complimentary period (not action is required).

Climate schools Pty LTD was established in 2015 by Maree Teesson and Nicola Newton to distribute the Climate Schools programs and maximise social well-being. Refer to the Climate Schools website for registration and subscription details.


  • Increases alcohol and cannabis knowledge
  • Reduces alcohol consumption
  • Reduces frequency of binge drinking
  • Reduces frequency of cannabis use
  • Increases resistance to peer pressure
  • Reduces psychological distress
  • Reduces truancy

Evidence Base

Nine published studies, including results from five randomised control trials, support the benefits of the Climate Schools: Alcohol & Cannabis Module in Australia. Please note these results reflect when the module is also delivered alongside the Climate Schools: Alcohol Module.
The five most relevant studies are listed below. The Climate Schools programs have also been endorsed by a number of organisations as listed below. 


Newton, N. C., Chapman, C., Slade, T., Birrell, L., Healy A., Mather, M., McBride, N., Hides, L., Allsop, S., Mewton, L., Andrews, G., & Teesson, M. (2020). A national effectiveness trial of an eHealth program to prevent alcohol and cannabis misuse: responding to the replication crisis. Psychological medicine, 1-9.

Teesson, M., Newton, N. C., Slade, T., Chapman, C., Birrell, L., Mewton, L., Mather, M., Hides, L., McBride, N., Allsop, S., & Andrews, G. (2020). Combined prevention for substance use, depression, and anxiety in adolescence: a cluster-randomised controlled trial of a digital online intervention. The Lancet Digital Health, 2, 74-84. 

Champion, K. E., Newton, N. C., Stapinski, L., Slade, T., Barrett, E. L., & Teesson, M. (2016). A cross-validation trial of an Internet-based prevention program for alcohol and cannabis: Preliminary results from a cluster randomised controlled trial. Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry, 50, 54-73.

Newton, N. C., Andrews, G., Teesson, M., & Champion, K. (2014). Universal internet-based prevention for alcohol and cannabis use reduces truancy, psychological distress and moral disengagement: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Preventive Medicine, 65, 109-115.

Newton, N. C., Teesson, M., Vogl, L. E., Andrews, G. (2010). Internet-based prevention for alcohol and cannabis use: final results of the Climate Schools course, Addiction, 105, 749-759.

The Climate Schools programs received a three-star rating from the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) following their comprehensive systematic review of alcohol education programs. Climate School was the only Australian program to receive the maximum evidence rating.  

The Climate Schools programs were recognised at the 2014 Society of Mental Health Research conference with the Australian Rotary Health Knowledge Dissemination award.
Australian Rotary Health

The Climate Schools Alcohol and Cannabis module is included in SAMSHA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (USA). 

Page last reviewed: 27/11/2021

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