Researchers say parents should look out for certain personality traits which can show if children could develop addictions later in life.
The idea is to stop the addiction before it even begins.
It's a trial that in the future could help people like John Shaw who was fourteen when he started dabbling in alcohol and drugs.More stories from Today Tonight
It turned into a 33 year drug addiction that he's only managed to kick now.
"I realised I had to get help. It was either get help or die - they were the two choices I was facing. Luckily I got help," Shaw said.
He wishes someone could have predicted he'd become a drug addict and helped him prevent the disaster before it happened.
"If I had people coming into my school when I was younger and saying 'you know there's a chance you'll become a drug addict and wreck your entire life, but if you start young and start to educate yourself, and start putting strategies in play' then I probably would've jumped at the chance," Shaw said.
As director of the new Centre in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of New South Wales, Professor Maree Teeson is heading up the research.
The four personality traits - anxiety, impulsivity, negative thinking and sensation seeking are identified in a simple questionnaire students fill out at school.
"I just want to stress it's not that we know these traits are going to actually lead to alcohol problems in the future. It just puts them at a slightly increased risk," Professor Teeson said.
"In the intervention we actually don't talk a lot about alcohol. We're talking about ways you deal with impulsivity, ways you deal with feeling anxious."
Professor Teeson explains that "we don't want to label these kids as 'future alcoholics'. That's not what we're about and they're not necessarily. This is giving them coping skills so that it isn't what happens to them in their adulthood."
A similar UK study has had successful results by specifically targetting at-risk students prone to future addiction. Problem drinking in and around the school has decreased by nearly 50 per cent.
"They also found that because those kids weren't drinking, all of the kids were less exposed to alcohol, and that meant the whole community and school drank less," Professor Teeson said.
Shaw believes anything is better than the current national approach of television advertising advising kids to say no to drugs.
"'Just say no to drugs' to me, as an addict, was the biggest joke of all, and a total waste of money and effort. You have to look at the core issues of why people do drugs," he said.
This reporter is on Twitter at @LauraSparkes7
OUR SOCIAL SITES
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest