Testing a Culturally Adapted Youth Substance Use Prevention Program in a Mexican Border City: Mantente REAL

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11 Scopus citations


Background: This article reports on a test of a youth substance use prevention program conducted in Nogales-Sonora, a Mexican city on the US border. Objective: The study tested the efficacy of a version of the keepin' it REAL curriculum for middle school students that was culturally adapted for Mexico and renamed Mantente REAL. Methods: Students in 7th grade classrooms in four public schools participated in the study (N = 1,418, 49% female, mean age = 11.9). Using a clustered randomized design, two schools received the intervention and two served as a treatment-as-usual control group. Regular classroom teachers were trained to deliver the twelve-lesson Mantente REAL manualized curriculum. Parents provided active consent and students gave written assent to collect pretest and posttest questionnaire data, 7 months apart, at the beginning and end of the 2017-2018 academic year. We assessed the Mantente REAL intervention with general linear models adjusted for baseline, attrition, non-linear distributions, and school-level clustering. Results: Students who participated in Mantente REAL reported relatively less frequent use of alcohol and illicit drugs other than marijuana, compared to students in control schools. Males alone reported desirable intervention effects for marijuana use. These desirable effects were especially strong among students who reported higher initial levels of involvement in risky behaviors. Among students more at risk, both females and males receiving the program reported relative reductions in the frequency of use of alcohol and illicit drugs. Conclusions: These promising results within the Mexico-US border context support a further dissemination of the intervention and additional youth prevention research in the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Border
  • Mexico
  • Substance use
  • cultural adaptation
  • prevention
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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