What are the top 5 life skills


IPSY is a universal, primary preventive prevention program. This is why it starts with entire population groups (such as school classes) before alcohol and cigarettes are consumed or before consumption patterns can solidify.

The goals of the IPSY program are:

• Preventing or reducing substance consumption (abuse)
• Delaying the start of consumption
• Promoting positive development in adolescence

IPSY is based on the World Health Organization (WHO) life skills approach. The program aims to prevent addiction by promoting skills that enable a positive approach to general development tasks (so-called life skills) or are specifically significant in consumer situations. To this end, the IPSY program aims to promote a positive relationship with school and impart knowledge about the short-term consequences, modes of action and prevalence of alcohol and cigarettes.

Short presentation for download


The IPSY program consists of three parts for grades 5 to 7 (11-13 years of age), whereby in grade 5 (basic program) the focus is on teaching general intra- and interpersonal life skills. In the two following parts of the program (refresher sessions, so-called "booster sessions", in grades 6 and 7), the focus is on repetition and practice. The given situations, in which interactive learning takes place, are tailored more and more specifically to substance consumption, in accordance with the growing normativity of confrontation with alcohol and cigarettes in everyday life of adolescents.

The basic program comprises 15 units (10 × 90 min, 5 × 45 min), the two refresher sessions each 7 units (each 4 × 90 min, 3 × 45 min). Overall, the training lasts over 33 hours, which corresponds to a program with high intensity or a high number of units. The specific sequence of the individual sessions is shown in the structured manual for all three program parts.

Overview of units (PDF file) and example unit (PDF file).

In the meantime, a part of the program (refresher sessions) has also been developed for grade 8. This is not part of the published program manual. You can find more information and the manual on IPSY for the 8th grade here.

Theoretical background & prevention model

Conceptual models for the development of adolescent substance use as well as related empirical findings, findings on effective elements of previous preventive measures and the model of life skills education of the World Health Organization (WHO) form the basis for the development of the life skills program IPSY.

In the prevention model on which the program is based, it is assumed that adolescent substance use occurs in a context of general risk factors in the person (personality, disposition), the immediate environment of adolescents in the family and peer group (lack of support, negative role models with deviant behaviors) and more far-reaching ecological systems (e.g. general availability). Factors that (indirectly) have a distal effect on substance use are personal (self-esteem, problem-solving skills, etc.) and interpersonal skills (self-confidence, appropriate communication skills), which can be summarized as general life skills. Furthermore, substance-specific competencies (such as resistance to a consumption offer) and relevant knowledge (e.g. on prevalence and consequences) influence adolescent substance use at the distal level. Finally, it is assumed in the model that the attachment to normative contexts (such as school) and the support that young people experience here have an effect on substance use. Distal risk and protection factors are directly and mediated via proximal (behavioral) psychological factors (assumptions about the normativity of consumption or the benefits of consumer behavior, etc.) related to actual consumer behavior.

The IPSY program aims to influence distally acting risk and protection factors for substance consumption by conveying relevant program content such as life skills.

Components of the IPSY curriculum that relate to intrapersonal competencies deal with and practice self-efficacy, self-awareness, dealing with stress and strong feelings, empathy, and they convey competencies for making well-considered decisions and effective problem-solving. At IPSY, interpersonal skills should be promoted by teaching effective communication, self-confident behavior and resistance to group pressure, and substance-specific skills through exercises to say no and to resist group pressure in specific, age-typical situations for alcohol and cigarette consumption.

In addition to imparting knowledge about substance consumption in adolescence (e.g. consequences, prevalence, analysis of advertising for alcohol and cigarettes), the IPSY program promotes a positive attitude towards school, classmates and teachers through exercises and reflections. and learning techniques and strategies are taught and tried out

Notes & material for the implementation of the program

If you are interested in the implementation of IPSY, it has proven useful to inform the school management and colleagues as well as the parents about the IPSY program before the program is communicated to the school class. This can be done orally (e.g. school conference, parents' evening), but also in written form. Basic information on the IPSY program is summarized in a flyer and an information sheet under "Materials", which can facilitate communication for intermediaries, for example by enclosing these overviews as an attachment to information letters for parents.

Further information in the program manual: Karina Weichold & Rainer K. Silbereisen (2014). Addiction prevention in school: IPSY - A life skills program for grades 5-7. Göttingen: Hogrefe.