REAL media is grounded in media literacy and social-cognitive theories, and guided by experiential-learning principles. The activities are designed to be engaging and challenging. They encourage students to reflect and offer their thoughts via open-ended questions as well as quizzes and optional depth sections where students can further explore their interests. Each level ends with an interactive challenge that allows participants to apply new skills. 

The first four levels address multiple substances such as alcohol, vaping, and tobacco use. In the (AVT) version students create their own prevention messaging to prevent alcohol, vaping, tobacco, and marijuana use. In the (Opioid) version of REAL media, many substances are addressed but the focus is on opioid messages and students create their own prevention messaging to prevent Opioid misuse.

REAL Media


REAL media is the web-based version of the evidence-based program Youth Message Development.

REAL media is a five-lesson, e-learning curriculum to prevent adolescent substance use among 12- to 18-year-olds by:

  • increasing their knowledge of advertising techniques used to sell alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) products;
  • developing their counter-arguing and critical-thinking skills in response to ATOD messages;
  • helping them apply these skills and techniques to create youth-driven,
    anti-substance use messages.


REAL media is a digital adaptation of the face-to-face Youth Message Development (YMD) program that receives a rating of EFFECTIVE on a variety of evidence-based programs registries including NREPP.

Evaluation studies demonstrate that kiR:
  • reduces pro-drug attitudes
  • reduces intentions to use drugs
  • increases ability to resist pressure to use
LEVEL -1 An introduction to media and advertising with content on costs and ethics
LEVEL -2 Media reach and persuasion strategies used by advertisers to sell ATOD products
LEVEL -3 Claims used in ATOD messages and counterarguments used in anti-ATOD messages
LEVEL -4 Production techniques used by advertisers including setting, colors, font size, and object placement
LEVEL -5 The active application of content learned in lessons 1-4 to the development of a poster or 30-second video that includes an anti-substance use message

Two versions to choose from!   

  • Alcohol, vaping, tobacco, and marijuana
  • Opioids

Flexible Implementation! The lessons are short (20-25 minutes each) and self-paced. The flexible format allows levels to be completed individually or via group sessions in one or more sittings. They do require computer access for each participant and an internet connection that can support the number of individuals in the group or the individual on a personal computer. Optimal delivery is student individual use in class or as an assignment; however, a teacher-led option is also available.


REAL media includes:

Youth access to online platform, including interactive games, audio walkthrough, and challenges. Access code to online program, Access code obtained through REAL Prevention.


  • Option #1: Individual License (Annual)
      • $5
  • Option #2: Teachers Site License (Annual)
        • Fewer than 100 students: $350
        • 101 – 150 students = $500
        • 151 – 300 students = $800
        • More than 300 students = $1500