Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Storytelling for Empowerment



Developer: The Wheel Council

Partners: Funding from the Unites States Department of Health and Human Services; US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

Program Overview: The Storytelling for Empowerment program aimed to decrease alcohol consumption and marijuana use among middle school students ages 11-15.

Program Design: This program uses storytelling and art for emotional expression, in an attempt to create a positive peer group and to enhance cultural identities. Students participating in the program met during lunch and after school. The curriculum included 27 lessons which included a variety of interactive games and exercises, and other tasks. Students are given a book to accompany lessons.

Evaluation: Students in 6-8 grade from two middle schools volunteered to participate in the program, and a third school in the same district served as a control. Data were collected at baseline and again one year later.

Key findings: Evaluation tracked results from two cohorts, which showed slightly different results.

  • One cohort demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in the reported number of days in past month that alcohol was consumed (and marijuana used)
  • Both cohorts showed statistically significant decreases in the use of illicit drugs

Program Website: wheelcouncil.org


1. Nelson, A. & Arthur, B. (2003). Storytelling for empowerment: Decreasing at-risk youth's alcohol and marijuana use. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 24(2), 169-180.

Target Audience: Middle school (10-14 years)
Issues: Underage Drinking
Setting: Extra-curricular clubs or organizations, Schools
Approach: Life Skills
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