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Keepin' it REAL (Refuse, Explain, Avoid, Leave)

Arizona State University
School of Social Work, P.O. Box 873711
Tempe, AZ 85287-3711
Contact Information
Patricia Dustman

Program Specifications



Age/Grade Level:

Elementary, Middle School, High School





Target Settings:


Target Groups:


Other Participation Criteria:



The Keepin' it REAL (Refuse, Explain, Avoid, Leave) program is a video-enhanced intervention that uses a culturally-grounded resiliency model which incorporates traditional ethnic values and practices that protect against drug use. A school-based prevention program for elementary, middle, and early high school students, Keepin' it REAL is based on previous work that demonstrates that teaching communication and life skills can combat negative peer and other influences. Keepin' it REAL extends resistance and life-skills models by using a culturally-based narrative and performance framework to: (1) enhance antidrug norms and attitudes; and (2) facilitate the development of risk assessment, decision making, and resistance skills. Distinct Mexican American, African American, and multicultural versions of Keepin' it REAL are available.

Program Descriptors Include:

Substance Abuse, Life Skills Training

Program Rating:

Moderate Evidence

Starting Year:


Students Served Per Year:

less than 50

Last Verified:

November 14th, 2018

Strategies for Locating Students:


Reenrolled Students with Disabilities:


Risk Factors

Program addresses the following:

Individual Factors

  • High-risk peer group
  • High-risk social behavior

Protective Factors

Program promotes the following:


  • Clear social norms
  • Perception of support from adults and peers


  • Healthy/conventional beliefs and standards


  • Problem-solving skills

Program Resources

Annual Cost:

The annual cost range of the program is less than $25,000 or less than $500 per student.

Funding Sources Include:

Foundations, Organizations/Agencies

Program Staff Includes:

Teachers, Counselors

Materials Used:

Media/CD/DVD, Instructional Texts/Manuals

Supporting/Partner Organizations:

Evaluation Information

Description of Program Impact:
The initial REAL evaluation was conducted over 48 months using a randomized block assignment with sample middle schools. Compared to students in control schools at a two-year follow-up, students who participated in the program: retained unfavorable attitudes against someone their age using substances; significantly reduced marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol use, especially alcohol; and improved their resistance skills to using alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana.

How Evaluation Data Was Collected:
Data collected and analyzed at state or organizational level

Additional Evaluation Information: