NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW.
This curriculum-based online program is designed to be administered by teachers within classrooms. The program involves 4 x 40-minute lessons, each with 3 components:
- A 20-minute computer-based component
- Teacher-led lesson summaries
- Teacher delivered classroom activities
The Climate Schools: Ecstasy and Emerging Drugs Module is designed to be implemented during Year 10 Health and Physical Education classes. No specialist teacher training is required.
The Climate Schools: Ecstasy and Emerging Drugs module was developed for 15-16 year-olds and aims to prevent and reduce drug 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 four episodes of an online cartoon-based drama about a group of teenagers and their experiences with ecstasy and emerging drugs to impart information about these substances. The cartoons are designed to equip students with the skills needed to reduce drug-related harms, stay safe, refuse drugs and resist peer pressure. Through the storyline, students learn about ecstasy and emerging drugs, the impact on relationships and finances, the dangers of mixing pills with alcohol or other drugs, the law, and effective communication and refusal skills.
Each episode includes a short quiz to assess and consolidate learning, and allow students to reflect on drug-related situations. 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.
Benefits of the Climate Schools Ecstasy & Emerging Drugs module have been demonstrated in Australia in the following research study:
Champion, K.E., Newton, N. C., Stapinski, L. A., Teesson, M. (2016). Effectiveness of a universal internet-based prevention program for ecstasy and new psychoactive substances: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Addiction, 111, 1396-1405.
Champion, K.E., Newton, N. C., Stapinski, L. A., Teesson, M. (2018). Cluster randomised controlled trial of an online intervention to prevent ecstasy and new psychoactive substance use among adolescents: Final results and implications for implementation.
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.