Youth Message Development (YMD) is a 4-lesson, face-to-face delivered curriculum to prevent adolescent substance use among 13- to 17 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;
  • And helping them actively apply these skills and techniques to create youth-driven, anti-substance use messages.

The curriculum content is grounded in media literacy and social-cognitive theories, and guided by experiential-learning principles. The activities are designed to be engaging and encourage collaborations and discussions among participants. The curriculum incorporates ads for generating discussion and analysis, activities to increase involvement, and small-group structure to facilitate learning from peers.


Evaluation studies demonstrate that YMD:
  • reduces pro-drug attitudes
  • reduces intentions to use drugs
  • increases ability to resist pressure to use

YMD is rated as EFFECTIVE on a variety of evidence-based programs registries including NREPP. Effective for improving knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about substance use.


Youth Message Development consists of four lessons that focus on the following topics:

LEVEL -1 Media reach and persuasion strategies used by advertisers to sell ATOD products
LEVEL -2 Claims used in ATOD messages, and counterarguments used in anti-ATOD messages
LEVEL -3 Production techniques used by advertisers including setting, colors, font size, and object placement
LEVEL -4 The active application of content learned in lessons 1–3 to the development of a poster that includes an anti-substance use message

Flexible Implementation! The four lessons can be taught in one, 90-minute session; separated across four, 20- to-25-minute sessions; or two, 45-minute lessons to groups of up to 30 students. Additional youth involvement and application can be encouraged by including optional activities.


BUNDLE includes:
  • Teacher’s Guide with all four lessons
  • Student handouts
  • PowerPoint presentation


    Make your own Media!

    Four 40-minute lesson plans designed to teach students step-by-step how to design their own prevention media such as videos or posters.

    Free: Request with Purchase


    $350 (includes 5 student workbooks)