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Drug Education for Youth (DEFY)



Empower military youth to build positive, healthy lifestyles as drug-free, successful citizens.

Improve combat readiness by providing a drug demand reduction and comprehensive life skills program designed to improve youth resiliency and strength.

To combat threats facing our nation, the Navy and Marine Corps require highly trained and skilled professionals who are focused and clearly dedicated to mission accomplishment. Distractions contribute to personal injury, property loss, and mission failure.
During periods of forward deployment, Sailors and Marine Corps families remain behind with a burden of maintaining a family home front with the absence of one or more parents. Maintaining quality of life for military families is essential to alleviate some of the anxiety inherent to leaving family behind.

DEFY gives youth between ages 9 and 12 skills that equip them to lead a positive, healthy, and drug-free lifestyle. Through drug education, leadership and character development, positive mentoring, and community outreach, DEFY enhances the quality of life for military personnel and their families. The DEFY curriculum aims to strengthen identified protective factors that reduce risks for substance misuse, gang involvement, bullying, crime, and other destructive behaviors. Navy and Marine Corps members are better able to concentrate on and accomplish their mission when their families are encouraged and their children develop positive life skills.

Train the Trainer (TTT)
The TTT events are geared towards training local DEFY Program staff members on proper execution of the program.  Two personnel from existing and new DEFY sites are allowed to attend the TTT with an unlimited number of attendees by local area programs are allowed. The TTT event enable key staff in attendance to return to their local program and properly train local staff members and volunteers to comply with DoD, Navy, and DEFY requirements. The TTT events are by invitation only; contact us for more program information.

OUSD Nominations for DoD Drug Demand Reduction Program Award

Every year the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense solicits nominations for the DoD Drug Demand Reduction Program Awards: the SECDEF Community Drug Awareness Award and the SECDEF Fulcrum Shield Award. The DoD established the Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness and Fulcrum Shield Awards to promote its support of outreach and prevention programs within the DoD community to encourage participation in the national Red Ribbon drug prevention campaign. Contact the DEFY program office for more information. You can find the document here

How DEFY Works
SECNAVINST 5355.3A implemented the DEFY Program within the Department of the Navy. DEFY has a professionally developed curriculum that incorporates key characteristics of successful substance misuse prevention programs identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the program is based on best practices determined by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). To ensure the program remains timely and relevant, the curriculum is reviewed and updated periodically.

DEFY is a yearlong program consisting of:

  • A structured 5-day residential or 8-day non-residential summer program

  • Monthly mentoring events

  • Classroom learning

  • Educational field trips

  • A fitness challenge

Studies completed by respected universities and independent evaluators have demonstrated that DEFY's curriculum produces measurable, positive outcomes in:

  • Resistance skills

  • Social behavior

  • Self-esteem

  • Attitudes towards alcohol

  • Attitudes towards smoking

  • Knowledge of drugs

Contact Us

Commercial:  (901) 874-3300   DSN: 312-882-3300


Fax: (901) 874-4228 DSN: 312-882-4228


Social Media
DEFY Site Locations
2022-2023 DEFY Sites
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