What Is Prime For Life®?
Prime For Life® is an evidence-based motivational prevention, intervention and pretreatment program specifically designed for people who might be making high-risk choices. This includes but is not limited to impaired driving offenders, college students, and young people charged with alcohol and/or drug offenses. It is designed to change drinking and drug use behaviors by changing beliefs, attitudes, risk perceptions, motivations, and the knowledge of how to reduce their risk of alcohol- and drug-related problems throughout their lives. Because Prime For Life® includes both prevention and intervention content, it is also designed in a way that serves universal, selective, and indicated audiences with program delivery options for each.
Universal audiences are those without any known increased risk factors who might only need the risk reduction information provided in the prevention component. Some examples of potential universal audiences are all incoming freshman at a university, or employees at a company that wants to provide preventative programming to its personnel. Though universal audiences typically receive prevention information, many can also benefit from participating in the intervention component.
Selective audiences are those who might have signs of increased risk for developing problems such as youth with truancy issues or family members of individuals with substance use problems. Selective audiences will likely benefit from receiving both the prevention and intervention components in Prime For Life®.
Indicated groups are those already making high-risk alcohol or drug choices and who might be exhibiting signs of problems. Such individuals benefit from a more intensive version of Prime For Life® and might even participate in it as a pretreatment program. For example, many youth in juvenile justice facilities and DUI offenders across the U.S. often receive 12 to 20 hours of “therapeutic education” content such as Prime For Life®.
How is Prime For Life® Different?
Prime For Life® is an evidence-based intervention.
Careful attention to research on how people change, and intensive field testing helped us develop effective protocols for Prime For Life® delivery. When implemented in accordance with protocols, Prime For Life® is effective in changing high-risk attitudes, beliefs, risk perceptions and behaviors, and has been shown to reduce recidivism in the DUI population. In 2009, Prime For Life® was added to the National Registry of Evidenced-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). This list was reserved for programs that have demonstrated effectiveness through independent scientific evaluation. [Note: NREPP was discontinued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2018 and has yet to be replaced by a similar system.]
Prime For Life® is nonjudgmental.
Few people change if they feel judged. In Prime For Life® we pay careful attention to words and experiences that promote inclusion, openness, and a lack of judgment. Instructors are carefully trained to create an atmosphere that makes it safe for people to openly explore, and inwardly examine how their choices are affecting their lives. Prime For Life® does not moralize or dictate. We believe people have reasons for their beliefs and behaviors and that with new understanding, self-evaluation, and support for change, most people are willing to consider change. No scare tactics…but deep self-evaluation.
“Every day I use PRIME, I’m amazed at how well it’s designed and what it can accomplish with clients in such a short amount of time. The profound experience clients will have with Prime is what I have been looking for. The insight Prime brings to clients is one that I can feel proud of because I know it gives clients the necessary information they need to make choices and changes so as to live a fuller life. ” North Carolina Prime For Life® Instructor
Why is the combination of new understanding with the use of a motivational approach important?
An understanding of the potential risks associated with high-risk alcohol and drug choices is an important tool for protecting what we value. When presented in a non-judgmental way, carefully selected information can provoke new thinking and provide individuals with a solid basis for making decisions about their own drinking and drug use.
Results from more than 28 years of instructors teaching Prime For Life® indicate that the combination is effective in helping participants change their high-risk behaviors. Prime For Life® has also been shown to reduce recidivism and increase abstinence. Find out more from our research evaluations.
Where is Prime For Life® Used and who attends?
- Universal, selective, and indicated audiences
- Court-referred impaired driving offenders (e.g., DUI, DWI, OUI)
- Individuals referred by a court for other reasons (e.g., possession, public intoxication, diversion program)
- Youth and young adults ages 13 to 20 who are engaging in drinking and drug use or in a group likely to engage in these behaviors
- College campuses
- Parents who have youth participating in court diversion or juvenile justice programs
- U.S. Army policy violators and referrals
- U.S. Coast Guard policy violators and referrals
- U.S. Marine Corps policy violators and referrals
What Are The Benefits to your own clients?
In a Prime For Life® classroom, clients:
- Feel engaged and comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and self-reflections.
- Learn how the combination of influences and personal choices determine outcomes.
- Learn how to make low-risk choices by using a simple tool.
- Are given time to absorb and process the information provided.
- Self-assess to identify their risk levels and current phase of alcohol and drug use.
- Identify the things they value in their lives and make their own decisions about when and how to protect them.
- Explore new beliefs and reflect on how those new beliefs may bring about positive changes.
How Do We Know Prime For Life® Works?
We know Prime For Life® works as a result of the research we and others do, our instructors’ observations during their classroom experiences, and through feedback from participants about how Prime For Life® has changed their lives.