What is Unplugged?
Unplugged is an evidence-based programme designed to equip young people with specific skills and resources that they need to resist social influences and to support knowledge about drugs and their adverse health consequences.
The programme is designed for 12-14 year olds and consists of 12 one-hour units delivered weekly by teachers who have been trained to deliver the intervention.
Unplugged focuses on core ‘life skills’: critical thinking, decision-making, creative thinking, effective communication, relationship skills, self-awareness, empathy, and coping with emotions. In addition, the programme aims to correct mistaken ideas about how prevalent and acceptable drug use is in general among young people.
Research and evidence
The Unplugged programme has been trialled in seven European countries: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden. In a 2011 Cochrane review of universal school-based prevention programs for alcohol misuse, Unplugged was one of three programmes identified as ones which the evidence suggests can be effective and could be considered as policy and practice options (Foxcroft and Tsertsvadze, 2011).
Three months after completion of the programme, there was an estimated reduction of:
- 30% in daily smoking compared to the control group,
- 28% in drunkenness at least once over past 30 days, and
- 31% in frequent drunkenness.
Fifteen months after programme completion, there were significant reductions of around:
- 20% for any drunkenness in past 30 days;
- 38% for frequent drunkenness; and
- 26% for frequent cannabis use.
To find out more about Unplugged evaluation and teaching methods click here.
The materials have been adapted for the UK and are freely available here:
- Teacher’s handbook
- Pupils’ workbook
- Information Cards (web-friendly)
Young people’s smoking drinking and drug use data (15-24) (Data to deliver Lesson 4)
Mentor is leading a pilot of the Unplugged programme in secondary schools and Pupil Referral Units in Salford, Staffordshire and the Greater Manchester area. The pilot is now entering the monitoring and evaluation phase, with a report to be released later this year.
Unplugged for your school
- Your name
- School name and address
- Details of any other alcohol and drug education your school uses