Substance Use and Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention Program

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention, Infectious Disease Prevention, Mental Health, Sexual & Reproductive Health

Individuals who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse problems are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Often they don’t have skills to avoid risky sexual situations, especially when using alcohol and drugs. Furthermore, confidentiality concerns act as a barrier to help seeking and care.  Brief interventions are shown to help people create personalized plans, reduce high-risk behavior and motivate them to get tested for sexually transmitted infections.


EMPWR (Educate, Motivate, Protect, Wellness and Respect) is a brief 2-session sexual risk reduction program adapted for use in American Indian community-based settings. Through one-on-one sessions, EMPWR helps people identify and understand events, situations and behaviors that put them at risk for unprotected sex, alcohol and drug use. EMPWR teaches skills and helps people engage in alternative behaviors through a tailored risk reduction plan. EMPWR also motivates people to complete self-administered testing for sexually transmitted infections.


The EMPWR program is currently being evaluated through a Randomized Controlled Trial with n=240 adults ages 18-49 from a tribe in the American Southwest. People are eligible for the study if they are currently struggling with alcohol and drug use or mental health problems. Data is collected through 6 months after receiving the EMPWR program to assess program impact on individual’s alcohol and drug use and risky sexual behavior.

Funders and replication partners

This project has been supported by the Native American Research Center for Health of the National Institutes of Health.


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