Since 1987, RISAS has implemented Project SUCCESS (Schools Using Coordinated Community Efforts to Strengthen Students) in RI middle and high schools.
As of August 2021, Project SUCCESS is in 31 RI middle schools and 39 high schools, representing 33 school districts. In the fall of 2021, 52,000 Rhode Island middle and high school students will have access to a student assistance counselor in their school.
Project SUCCESS is recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as an effective evidence-based program to prevent and reduce substance use among youth ages 12 to 18.
Project SUCCESS works by embedding a specially trained master’s degree level student assistance counselor in each school to provide students with easy access to services. This approach allows for early identification and intervention for alcohol and other drug use-related risk factors, such as drinking at an early age, poor academic performance, tardiness, absenteeism and other behavior problems.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students who participated in Project SUCCESS:
- Showed a 37% decrease in substance use.
- 23% quit using substances as compared to a control group of students.
- Were less likely to have ever used marijuana, prescription drugs, or sniffed/huffed compared to a control group.
According to the 2020-2021 Rhode Island Student Survey, students at schools with Project SUCCESS had:
- 22% lower use of cigarettes
- 17% lower use of marijuana
- 20% lower use of alcohol
- 42% lower driving under the influence of marijuana
- Fewer depressive symptoms
…than students at schools without Project SUCCESS.
Parents, school administrators, teachers, and community members find Project SUCCESS a highly effective model for addressing alcohol and other drug use that can negatively impact adolescents’ academic success and well-being.
How Project SUCCESS Works
Project SUCCESS services, which are delivered in school by RISAS student assistance counselors, include:
- Prevention Education Series (PES) is a six- to eight-session alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drug program typically delivered in seventh and ninth grade.
- Confidential Assessment for alcohol and other drug use and other behavioral health problems that interfere with school performance, attendance, and behavior.
- Individual and Group Counseling are time-limited sessions designed to prevent or reduce substance use and foster resilience in youth living with a parent or caretaker with a substance use disorder.
- Referrals to Substance Abuse and/or Mental Health Treatment Agencies when appropriate and case management and follow-up services.
- School-Wide Awareness Activities for students, school personnel, and families about substance use and mental health and where to go for help.
- Parent Programs are conducted in person and online and may include, but are not limited to: education and information at parent orientations/open houses, webinars for parents, community forums, and newsletters.
- Onsite and Virtual Consultation and Professional Development for school personnel to increase identification, prevention, and early intervention strategies for adolescent and pre-teen substance users and students at risk for substance abuse.
Project SUCCESS Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifications do student assistance counselors have?
All of our student assistance counselors have a Master’s degree in social work, psychology, counseling, or other related area. They have experience counseling adolescents and are very familiar with evidence-based prevention strategies and how to motivate and intervene with teens who are using substances.
How are students referred to a student assistance counselor?
Do student assistance counselors only see students who are using substances?
No. Student assistance counselors identify and help youth exhibiting risk factors before alcohol and other drug use begin. Risk factors include, but are not limited to, trauma, depression, anxiety, poor school performance and family violence. This early identification and intervention approach has proven effective in delaying the initial use of alcohol and other drugs and reducing associated school and life problems.