Location: North England
Demographic: young people aged 12-14
Delivery setting: secondary schools; PRUs
Years active: 2015 – 2016
Contact email: jamila.boughelaf@mentoruk.org
Keywords: alcohol and drug education; schools; life skills


Theory of Change for Unplugged:

  1. Unplugged is an evidence-based programme offering free training and resources to teachers in secondary schools to inform and empower young people ages 12-14 years.
  2. These activities help them to make informed decisions and critically think about drugs and alcohol.
  3. The well-being of young people is improved, therefore the wider community and future generations are positively impacted.


Life skills for thriving youth

 Unplugged is an evidence-based programme designed to equip young people with specific skills and resources that they need to resist social influences and to support knowledge about drugs and their adverse health consequences.

It focuses on core ‘life skills’: critical thinking, decision-making, creative thinking, effective communication, relationship skills, self-awareness, empathy, and coping with emotions. In addition, the programme aims to correct mistaken ideas about how prevalent and acceptable drug use is in general among young people.


Research and evidence

The Unplugged programme has been trialled in seven European countries: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The materials have been adapted for the UK and are freely available here.

In a 2011 Cochrane review of universal school-based prevention programs for alcohol misuse, Unplugged was one of three programmes identified as ones which the evidence suggests can be effective and could be considered as policy and practice options (Foxcroft and Tsertsvadze, 2011).


Unplugged in England: a feasibility study

In 2016, Mentor completed a pilot of the Unplugged programme in secondary schools and Pupil Referral Units in Salford, Staffordshire and the Greater Manchester area. Click the links below to read the evaluation report.

Final report: Unplugged in England

Final report: Annexes



Students engaged well with the circle discussion approach, which provided us with the opportunity to explore different consequences of alcohol and drug misuse.

Students were able to work in a safe space (. . .) with other students they would not normally work with. (The) games and informal nature of delivery supported this greatly.

The training provided to teachers (. . .) allowed us the opportunity discuss and test out the practicalities of different lessons and share possible solutions to any issues we felt may arise with delivery.

The Unplugged programme was extremely easy and enjoyable to deliver.

The content of each lesson was relevant and specific and allowed students the time to reflect on prior knowledge and experience, whilst exploring new content and developing the skills necessary to be confident in difficult situations.

Unplugged for your school

If you are interested in exploring options for bringing Unplugged to your school, please contact us via email using the button below or call 020 7553 9920.

Please include:

  • Your name
  • School name and address
  • Details of any other alcohol and drug education your school uses