Opioid Misuse Prevention Project

Duration: 2019 - Present
Funding: Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs
Principal Investigator: Janet Welsh
Partners: Family Services of Northwestern PA, Keystone Wellness Programs, Fayette County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc., Lancaster General Hospital, Clinical Outcomes Group, Inc.

group of teens giving each other a high five


This multi-component, comprehensive project is aimed at preventing substance misuse and promoting healthy development in young people and their families across Pennsylvania. This initiative was developed in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The goals of the project are to:

  • address the opioid situation by targeting the community at-large;
  • reduce the risk factors that lead to substance use, while increasing the protective factors that promote strong youth, families, and communities; and
  • prevent substance use disorders before they develop.

This initiative emphasizes the use of universal prevention programs that target protective factors for all youth and families, with the goal of avoiding substance misuse and the need for these resource-intensive interventions. The five sites involved with this project deliver the following broad-reaching programs:

LifeSkills Training (LST)

LST is implemented as part of the school curriculum for students beginning in 6th/7th grade and continuing through 8th/9th grade. The goals of LST are to:

  • improve social skills and interaction with pro-social peers, while decreasing favorable attitudes towards alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, while decreasing anti-social behavior; and
  • provide students with the tools necessary to avoid substance use, make good decisions, and effectively handle challenging social situations.

Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14)

SFP 10-14 is implemented in after school or evening community settings for youth ages 10-14 and their caregivers. The goals of SFP 10-14 are to:

  • improve family relationships, parenting skills, and caregiver-child communication; and
  • improves school performance and reduces youth smoking, drinking, and misuse of other substances.

Social Development Strategy (SDS)

SDS is an evidence-based framework that provides youth with opportunities, skills, and recognition for positive social involvement and interaction, in order to strengthen bonding. Adult community members are trained and encouraged to use this strategy in their daily interactions with youth. The goals of SDS are to promote positive behaviors while protecting against the creation of problem behaviors.

Primary Prevention Messaging Campaign (PPMC)

A public messaging campaign used to raise awareness about the value of effective prevention programs being delivered in the community to youth and families. It uses a variety of communication means, including but not limited to social media, web-based, print, radio, and stand-alone advertisements. Local messaging is used in partnership with the state-wide PA Start campaign (pastart.org).


As part of this project, we are collecting pre- and post-test information on youth knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around substance use, family, school, and community-level protective factors. We are also analyzing information on the quality of program delivery and program reach. The community’s school district-level data from the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) will be used to examine the effectiveness of this multi-level prevention project.


Please contact Project Coordinator Geneen Burris at (814) 863-2221 or grs119@psu.edu.

Project Team