1. Project Northland

Project Northland

Program Goals

Project Northland is a school- and community-based, alcohol-use–prevention curriculum series that aims to prevent and reduce alcohol use and binge-drinking by middle and high school students. It aims to delay and moderate the onset of alcohol use, reduce use among youths who have already tried alcohol, and limit the number of alcohol-related problems experienced by young drinkers.


Target Population

The target population is students in middle and high schools. The program targets schoolchildren who are before and at the age of early alcohol initiation and offers them prevention and knowledge. The program also is concerned with parental and community awareness, with a particular emphasis on the commercial sale of alcohol to underage drinkers.


Program Components

The program consists of elements that target the student, the parents, and the community to provide a comprehensive environment for alcohol prevention. Project Northlands contains:


·         A social-behavioral classroom curriculum

·         Parent involvement and communication programs

·         Peer leadership in alcohol-free projects and activities

·         A community task force

·         Commercial outlet and community awareness campaigns

·         Classroom involvement in the legal and social consequences and community responsibilities of underage alcohol use


While the classroom curricula concentrate on developing the participants’ knowledge of the consequences of alcohol use, the parent intervention provides parents with information and advice on how to communicate with their children about underage alcohol use. Project Northland also contains an important community element, encouraging students to develop and propose alcohol-free and alternative activities for their peers and emphasizing community organization of the participants. This aims to create awareness throughout the school district of the dangers of alcohol use and also targets commercial premises, encouraging merchants to refuse to sell alcohol to underage buyers.


These elements of the program can be implemented in grades 6 through 9 and repeated with greater depth in grades 11 through 12 in the final years of high school.


Program Theory

The program is based on the social influences theory of behavior change and through its multiple components aims to intervene in both the supply and demand of alcohol to underage drinkers. The program involves intervention on the environmental influences in the community that may affect the availability, possibility, and acceptability of underage drinking.

Intervention ID

11 to 17


While the original Project Northland that was developed in a rural setting showed strong evidence that indicated program effectiveness (study 1), later adaptations of Project Northland in an urban multiethnic setting showed no effects on the targeted population (see study 2). The evidence base suggests that this program may not be appropriate for implementation in all setting types.

Study 1

Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking

Perry and colleagues (2002) found that the trend data showed a significantly lower increase in alcohol use in the treatment group compared with the control group, using both the Tendency to Use Alcohol Scale and binge drinking. The growth-curve analysis revealed a 33 percent reduction in the usual increase of alcohol use and intention to use in the treatment group. It also showed a 50 percent reduction in the usual increase of binge drinking during high school in the treatment group, compared with the control group.

Community Attitudes to Underage Drinking

Though there were no significant differences in buy rates at baseline or in 1994, at the end of the intervention the study found significantly fewer successful purchase rates of alcohol by young-appearing buyers in the treatment group, compared with the control communities. The successful sales to young-appearing buyers were 46 percent lower in all outlets and 81.7 percent lower in off-sale outlets in treatment communities, compared with control communities.

Study 2

Substance Use and Attitudes

Komro and colleagues (2008) found that, though the comparison group had a relatively higher alcohol use at baseline, there were no significant differences in the growth rates of alcohol or drug use between the treatment and comparison groups over the 3 follow-up periods. Similarly, there were no significant differences in alcohol intentions or attitudes toward alcohol in the treatment and comparison groups at any follow-up point. An examination of the effects of exposure on outcomes showed that higher participation in the ‘at home’ section of the program was significantly associated with lower drug rate outcomes; however, no other outcomes or program sections showed significant associations.

Commercial, Community, and Parental Attitudes

There were no significant differences in the alcohol purchase rates of young-appearing buyers in either the treatment or comparison neighborhoods. The trend of purchases showed fewer successful purchases in treatment neighborhoods, but this result was not significant. Additionally, the results from the community leader and parent surveys showed no significant difference between treatment conditions.

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