Universal Prevention Curriculum

The Universal Prevention Curriculum for Substance Use comprises two training series, each addressing the needs of different target groups.

  • UPC Coordinators Series is designed for those wishing to undertake a significant in-depth study of prevention. It is designed for coordinators, managers as well as for practitioners, or for those who wish to undertake a major programme of study (288 hours) in prevention.
  • UPC Implementers Series is written for implementers or practitioners who work with families, in schools, the workplace, and the community

UPC is informed by the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2013.

The major role in the development of UPC has been undertaken by Applied Prevention Science International (APSI) led by Dr Zili Sloboda working with international experts in prevention from around the world.

The underlying principles of UPC are to provide a way forward for prevention that is based on: scientific research and evidence; sound quality standards; and an ethical stance in how prevention should be undertaken.

UPC was designed to meet the current demand for a comprehensive training package in the field of drug use prevention, based on evidence-based principles.

Example Materials

UPC Coordinators Series

The UPC Coordinators Series provides a 288-hour training programme for prevention coordinators, managers, and students/trainees whose role includes, or will include coordination and supervision of the implementation of prevention interventions and/or policies. The content is organised within the following nine courses:

Course 1: Introduction to Prevention Science

40 training hours

This course provides an overview of the science that underlies evidence-based prevention interventions and strategies, and the application of these effective approaches in prevention practice.

Course 2: Physiology and Pharmacology for Prevention Specialists

24 training hours

This course provides an overview of the physiology and pharmacology of psychoactive substances and their effects on the brain to affect mood, cognition, and behaviour and the consequences of such use on the individual, family and community.

Course 3: Monitoring and Evaluation of Prevention Interventions and Policies

40 training hours

This course provides an overview of primary evaluation methods used to measure evidence-based prevention interventions and gives guidance in applying them to "real-world" prevention settings.

Course 4: Family-based Prevention Interventions

32 training hours

This course provides an overview of the family as the primary socialisation agent of children, the science behind family-based prevention interventions, and the application of such evidence-based approaches to help prevent the onset of substance use in children.

Course 5: School-based Prevention Interventions

40 training hours

This course provides an overview of the role of the school in society, the science behind school-based prevention interventions, and the application of such evidence-based approaches in school settings around the world.

Course 6: Workplace-based Prevention Interventions

24 training hours

This course provides an overview of the role of work and the workplace in society, how stressors and other work-related influences affect people's risk of substance use, the science behind workplace prevention interventions, and the application of such evidence-based approaches in work settings around the world.

Course 7: Environment-based Prevention Interventions

24 training hours

This course provides an overview of the science underlying evidence-based substance use prevention environmental interventions, involving policy and community-wide strategies.

Course 8: Media-based Prevention Interventions

24 training hours

This course provides an overview of the science underlying the use of media for substance use prevention interventions.

Course 9: Community-based Prevention Implementation Systems

40 training hours

This course provides an overview of the science underlying the systems approach to prevention interventions and guidance on developing such approaches, as well as exemplars of evidence-based drug use prevention systems.

UPC Implementers Series

The UPC Implementers Series is currently under development. The goal of this series is to ensure effective delivery of prevention interventions. Amongst the aims are: provide knowledge about prevention science and its application to the effective delivery of prevention interventions, and equip prevention practitioners with the requisite skills to implement effective evidence-based prevention programmes in their respective settings.

Core: Introduction to the Universal Prevention Curriculum Series for Implementers

48 training hours

This course provides an overview of the science that underlies evidence-based prevention interventions and policies along with introductory skills and competencies to engage in prevention practice in the primary contexts where provision takes place.

Track 1: Monitoring and Evaluation of Prevention Interventions and Policies

100 training hours

This track presents primary evaluation methods used to measure short- and long-term outcomes of evidence-based substance use prevention interventions and policies. It also provides experiential learning in evaluation planning and monitoring and process evaluation through exercises and a practicum completed at the end of the track.

Track 2: Family-based Prevention

140 training hours

This track presents an overview of the science behind family-based prevention interventions, and the methods used to intervene effectively to prevent substance use in children. It also provides experiential learning in the effective family-based intervention methods to prepare prevention implementers to participate in such evidence-based programmes. The training includes extensive in-class exercises and a practicum completed at the end of the track.

Track 3: School-based Prevention

140 training hours

This track presents an overview of the science behind school-based prevention interventions and policies and the methods used to improve school climate, strengthen policies, and intervene directly with classroom prevention interventions. It also provides one track for administrators on effective planning and strategies for addressing school policy and climate, and a second track for teachers primarily on classroom interventions. The training includes extensive in-class exercises and a practicum completed at the end of the track.

Track 4:  Workplace-based Prevention

130 training hours

This track presents an overview of the science behind workplace-based prevention interventions and policies, and the methods used to improve the workplace environment in terms of substance use policies and services. It also provides experiential learning in planning for workplace policy changes and other substance use prevention efforts.  The training includes extensive in-class exercises and a practicum completed at the end of the track.

Track 5: Environment-based Prevention

110 training hours

This track presents an overview of effective environment-based prevention interventions and policies that focus on community-wide efforts to prevent tobacco and underage alcohol use; and illegal drug use in entertainment venues and other settings; and the methods used to implement these efforts. It also provides experiential learning in planning for and implementing environmental policy changes and other community-wide substance use prevention efforts.  The training includes extensive in-class exercises and a practicum completed at the end of the track.

Track 6: Media-based Prevention

115 training hours

This track presents an overview of the science of effective media-based substance use prevention interventions with a focus on developing successful persuasive communications. It also provides experiential learning in planning messages and media for reaching parents and youth in substance use prevention efforts.  The training includes extensive in-class exercises and a practicum completed at the end of the track.    

Track 7: Community Prevention Implementation Systems

100 training hours

This track presents an overview of the science underlying systems approaches to prevention interventions; and presents the primary methods for planning community-wide implementation systems.  It also provides experiential learning in planning and working with stakeholders to develop prevention intervention services. The training includes extensive in-class exercises and a practicum completed at the end of the track.