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Drug Abuse Prevention

Selected Program: Parenting Wisely


Parenting Wisely is an intervention that reduces drug abuse by building protective factors in the family. Parents complete an interactive online program consisting of video scenarios that ask “What would you do?” After choosing a problem-solving behavior to deal with the issue presented in the video skit, parents receive feedback on the effectiveness of their choice. A quiz and discussion follow each scenario. There are two versions: Young Child (ages 3-11) and Teen (age 11 and up). Parents can choose the skits that best address their family’s problems; there are ten in the Teen version and seven in the Young Child. While no more than ten issues are addressed in each curriculum, each scenario is fairly long and the skills acquired can be applied to other situations that are not directly mentioned in the program. For example, a lesson focusing on a dirty house teaches the importance of “I-messages,” logical punishments, and parenting as a team. All of these skills could be applied in most parenting dilemmas.

There is also a DVD option for participants who lack access to internet. Agencies can choose to conduct the intervention as a parenting group by utilizing the lessons on the DVD instead of having parents complete the program on their own. Spanish translation is available, and all text elements are narrated so low literacy is not a barrier.


  • To build protective factors against substance abuse
  • To improve parent-child communication and parental disciplinary skills


Program Website

For agencies:

For parents:

Age Group

Adults (parents complete the program that matches their child’s age group)

Young Child curriculum: ages 3-11

Teen curriculum: ages 11 and up


Male, Female

IOM Classification

Universal direct, selective, or indicated depending on the agency’s approach

Possible Implementation Settings

  • Parents complete the program online at their own pace wherever they choose to do it
  • Option to have in-person parent groups facilitated by the agency to enhance learning
  • Could have participants work on the program at the agency if a computer is available

Cost Associated and How to Purchase/Access

If an agency is purchasing then instructing parents and assisting with implementation:

  • One year subscriptions; lots of options depending on size of agency/population
  • $499-$5,999 for online version
  • $699 for DVD version; English and Spanish on one disc; designed to be implemented in a group
  • Free downloadable curriculum for working with parent groups

If parents purchase on their own:

$79.95 each for Teen and Young Child curriculums

How to Access

Agency purchase:

Individual parent purchase:

Online version is accessible for 6 months starting at the time of purchase, but can be completed in as little as 3-5 hours

Program Contact

Donald Gordon, Ph.D.

(541) 201-7680

Training Information

No training needed to facilitate.

Pros & Cons

New approach to drug prevention (kids already have many programs directed at them, but this works on underlying risk/protective factor of family relationships)Requires internet or DVD player
Can be completed wherever and whenever the parents chooseParents with both young children and teens would need to complete both trainings (costly and time-consuming)
Program developers offer to help with writing grants to secure funding
Intentionally designed to be a short program to limit dropout that can typically happen with at-risk families

Why I Chose This Program Over Others

I chose this program over others because of its goal to build protective factors against substance abuse, particularly those related to family life. There are already so many drug abuse prevention programs for kids; I thought a program for parents was a refreshing new approach to preventing substance abuse. The developers thought of many barriers that might negatively influence implementation or participation, and they set up the program to limit these obstacles. Overall I think the program was designed well and is easy to implement.

Honorable Mention

I Can Problem Solve (ICPS)

A primary prevention program for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school children designed to reduce risk factors for substance abuse and mental ill-health


Family Works, Inc. (2017). Family Works, Inc. presents: Parenting wisely—a highly interactive parenting course. Retrieved from

Family Works, Inc. (n.d.). Parenting wisely: A highly interactive parenting program. Retrieved from

National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. (2008). Intervention summary: Parenting wisely. Retrieved from