keepin’ it REAL (kiR)

keepin’ it REAL (kiR) is a substance use prevention and social and emotional competency enhancing program designed to focus on the competencies linked to preventing substance use and abuse. Featured as a cost-effective and powerful program by the U.S. Surgeon General in 2016, this program is based on the real stories of young adolescents and program videos serve to providing social modeling of effective strategies. Youth have opportunities to create their own media as part of the program. There are three versions of the program: multicultural, rural, and Spanish. The lessons are designed to promote interaction among the students as well as between the students and teachers, so that students are involved in their own learning. Students also learn how to assess risk, value their perceptions and feelings, and communicate effectively.

Last reviewed: 2024

Intended Outcomes:

  • Reduces rates of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use by as much as 45%
  • Leads to discontinuation of use. Rates of discontinuing all substance use was 61% higher for program participants than for students who didn’t receive the program
  • Leads to more realistic perceptions of peer use, increases anti-substance use attitudes, increases efficacy in resisting offers of substances, improves relationship skills, self-awareness, and responsible decision-making.

Continuum of Care:
Selective Prevention, Universal Prevention

Topic Areas:
Behavioral Health/Mental Health, Disruptive Behaviors, Substance Use

Childhood (4-12), Teen/Adolescent (13-18)

Geographic Locations:
Rural, Urban

Delivery Settings:

Cultural Considerations:
A balanced amount of the research involved diverse populations

Children and adolescents 10 to 13 years old.

There are no minimum qualifications to implement this program.


Is Training Required?

Who can provide the required training?
You can find out more about the optional training on program website.

Program Costs (materials, training, etc.):
Yes, refer to program website

Program/Practice Website:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research:

Coming to the new D.A.R.E.: A preliminary test of the officer-taught elementary keepin’ it REAL curriculum

Testing the keepin’ it REAL Substance Use Prevention Curriculum Among Early Adolescents in Guatemala City
Kulis SS, Marsiglia FF, Porta M, Arévalo Avalos MR, Ayers SL. Testing the keepin’ it REAL Substance Use Prevention Curriculum Among Early Adolescents in Guatemala City. Prev Sci. 2019 May;20(4):532-543. doi: 10.1007/s11121-018-0956-8. PMID: 30519793; PMCID: PMC6520179

Valente, J. Y., & Sanchez, Z. M. (2022). Short-term secondary effects of a school-based drug prevention program: Cluster-randomized controlled trial of the brazilian version of DARE’s keepin’ it REAL. Prevention Science, 23(1), 10-23.

Supported By Research

WV Rating:
Supported by Research
»WV Ratings Info

Rationale for Rating:

There are multiple studies that have been completed with suggestions of moderately long-term positive outcomes. These positive outcomes include delay in onset of alcohol use and vaping as well as increased knowledge regarding resistance strategies. There have also been modifications for diverse populations including those in rural areas and those from Hispanic communities. True RCT studies are lacking but two quazi-RCT methodologies were discovered where schools were randomly assigned to condition. There are also two quazi-RCT designs that examined a rural adaptation for the program and found evidence of a slight advantage over the classic version.

Contraindications or Concerns:
No specific contradindications, although there was some concern expressed regarding the mismatch between those offering the program and the racial and ethnic make-up of the youth to whom it is presented.

Other Registries/Ratings

The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare:
Promising Research Evidence

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development:
Not On Registry

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness:

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Model Programs Guide:
Not On Registry

Washington State Institute for Public Policy:
Found on the registry. See link for more information.

Washington State Institute for Public Policy Registry Link: