LifeSkills Training

Prevention; Ages 8–14


(Read the criteria for this rating)
  • Effective delinquency program


LifeSkills Training (LST) is a classroom-based universal prevention program designed to prevent adolescent tobacco, alcohol, marijuana use, and violence. LST contains 30 sessions to be taught over three years, and additional violence prevention lessons also are available each year. Three major program components teach students: (1) personal self-management skills, (2) social skills, and (3) information and resistance skills specifically related to drug use. Skills are taught using instruction, demonstration, feedback, reinforcement, and practice.

LST consists of three major components that address critical domains found to promote substance use. Research has shown that students who develop skills in these three domains are far less likely to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors. The three components each focus on a different set of skills:

  • Drug Resistance Skills—This component enables young people to recognize and challenge common misconceptions about substance use, as well as deal with peers and media pressure to engage in substance use.
  • Personal Self-Management Skills—These skills help students to examine their self-image and its effects on behavior, set goals and keep track of personal progress, identify everyday decisions and how they may be influenced by others, analyze problem situations, and consider the consequences of alternative solutions before making decisions.
  • General Social Skills—Students develop the necessary skills to overcome shyness, communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings, use both verbal and nonverbal assertiveness skills to make or refuse requests, and recognize that they have choices other than aggression or passivity when faced with tough situations.

Using outcomes averaged across more than a dozen studies, LST has been found to:

  • Cut tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use by 50 to 75 percent.

Long-term, follow-up results observed six years following the intervention show that LST:

  • Cuts polydrug use up to 66 percent.
  • Reduces pack-a-day smoking by 25 percent.
  • Decreases use of inhalants, narcotics, and hallucinogens.

Risk Factors

Antisocial/delinquent beliefs
Belief in physical aggression to resolve disagreements and violent tendencies
Few social ties (involved in social activities, popularity)
General delinquency involvement
High alcohol/drug use
Life stressors
Low psychosocial maturity (low temperance, responsibility, and perspective)
Makes excuses for delinquent behavior (neutralization)
Poor refusal skills
Growing up in foster care
Low parental education
Trouble at school
Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency
Peer alcohol/drug use


University of Colorado Blueprints: Model Program

Crime Solutions: Effective

OJJDP Model Programs: Effective


Gilbert J. Botvin, Ph.D.
National Health Promotion Associates, Inc.
711 Westchester Avenue
White Plains, NY 10604
Phone: (800) 293-4969 or (914) 421-2525
Fax: (914) 683-6998
Web site:


Botvin, G. J., Griffin, K. W., Diaz, T., Scheier, L. M., Williams, C., and Epstein, J. A. (2000). Preventing illicit drug use in adolescents: Long-term follow-up data from a randomized control trial of a school population. Addictive Behaviors, 25, 769-774.

Botvin, G. J., Griffin, K. W., and Nichols, T. R. (2006). Preventing youth violence and delinquency through a universal school-based prevention approach. Prevention Science, 7, 403-408.

Mackillop, J., Ryabchenko, K. A., and Lisman, S. A. (2006). Life Skills Training outcomes and potential mechanisms in a community implementation: A preliminary investigation. Substance Use and Misuse, 41, 1921-1935.

Spoth, R. L., Randall, G., Trudeau, L., Shin, C., and Redmond, C. (2008). Substance use outcomes 5 1/2 years past baseline for partnership-based family school preventive interventions. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 96, 57-68.

Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., Trudeau, L., and Shin, C. (2002). Longitudinal substance initiation outcomes for a universal preventive intervention combining family and school programs. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16, 129-134.

Spoth, R. L., Clair, S., Shin, C., and Redmond, C. (2006). Long-term effects of universal preventive interventions on methamphetamine use among adolescents. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 160, 876-882.

St. Pierre, T. L., and Kaltreider, D. (1992). Drug prevention in a community setting: A longitudinal study of the relative effectiveness of a three-year primary prevention program in Boys and Girls Clubs across the nation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 20, 673-706.

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