Scientific research into the effectiveness of public health strategies to reduce youth alcohol abuse is a rapidly expanding field. Over the years, researchers have broadened their focus, from looking primarily at alcohol abuse as an individual problem to an environmental or community perspective, which examines the social, economic, cultural, physical, and political contexts in which alcohol problems occur. Hundreds of research studies now document the impact of this public health approach to alcohol problems, including alcohol-related crime and violence. Studies show that reducing alcohol availability does reduce alcohol problems.
Several successful tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana prevention curricula exist, including Life Skills Training Botvin et al.
These programs have given researchers a better understanding of important components for classroom-based programs.
Program development based on behavioral theory and knowledge of risk and protective factors Developmentally appropriate information about drugs, including information on the short-term effects and long-term consequences of their use The development of personal, social, and resistance skills to help students identify internal pressures e.
Several studies have compared the effectiveness of different types of school-based programs.
For example, two recent meta-analyses compared interactive with noninteractive curricula. Interactive curricula include the components described above, with a substantial amount of time spent in activities that foster the development of interpersonal skills.
Noninteractive curricula are more lecture oriented and stress drug knowledge or affective development i. The analyses found that interactive curricula were more effective than noninteractive curricula in preventing alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among youth Tobler and Stratton ; Tobler et al.
Interactive programs can be further divided into three categories based on their focus on social influences, comprehensive life skills, and system-wide change, respectively.
Of these three categories, the system-wide change programs were most effective in preventing overall drug use including alcohol usefollowed by comprehensive life skills and social influences programs Tobler et al. System-wide change programs, in turn, are of two types: A more recent meta-analysis examined the relative effectiveness of two types of interactive programs-comprehensive life skills programs and social influences programs-and determined specific drug use outcomes for both strategies Roona et al.
In contrast to the findings by Tobler and colleaguesthe results indicated that the social The solutions to college drinking programs were significantly more effective than the comprehensive life skills programs in reducing alcohol abuse, especially for youth in middle school, where most prevention curricula are implemented.
The differences in findings probably stem from the fact that Tobler and colleagues studied the effects of the programs on overall drug use, whereas the study by Roona and colleagues in press was specific to alcohol abuse.
Overall, however, the investigators concluded that neither program type significantly reduced alcohol use prevalence and that comprehensive life skills programs actually increased alcohol use. These findings may be explained by the fact that alcohol use is highly ingrained in U.
The study by Roona and colleagues in press included only results on program effectiveness over the first year after the intervention. It is also important, however, to consider more long-term results when analyzing the effectiveness of prevention programs.
Such long-term analyses have been conducted for several programs, demonstrating that some result in long-term reductions of tobacco and marijuana use, but not alcohol use, among adolescents Ellickson et al.
This finding again supports the greater resistance of alcohol use behavior to change. The sole curricula-only prevention program that has reported long-term effects on alcohol use is Life Skills Training Botvin et al.
This program consists of 3 years of prevention curricula for middle or junior-high school students and includes 15 sessions during the first year, 10 sessions during the second year, and 5 sessions during the third year.
The curricula cover drug information, drug-resistance skills, self-management skills, and general social skills. A long-term followup study indicated that this program had long-term effects on tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use through grade 12 Botvin et al. The Life Skills Training curricula focus on changes only at the individual level.
A recent etiological analysis, however, indicates that individual-level variables only account for a small percentage of the variance in alcohol use among adolescents Griffin et al. Accordingly, Griffin and colleagues concluded that classroom-based prevention efforts should be complemented with family, community, and policy initiatives that facilitate change in the larger social environment.
Such approaches are reviewed in the following sections. Discretionary time outside of school represents an enormous potential for either desirable or undesirable behaviors, such as alcohol and other drug use.
Several studies have found that young adolescents who are more likely to be without adult supervision after school have significantly higher rates of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use than do adolescents receiving more adult supervision Mulhall et al.
Scales and Leffert conducted a comprehensive literature review on the effects of involvement in youth programs e. They found that involvement in youth programs is associated with the following outcomes: Better development of life skills Greater communication skills Decreased involvement in risky behaviors, such as drug use Decreased juvenile delinquency and violence Decreased risk of dropping out of school Increased academic achievement Increased safety.
Another study also found involvement in extracurricular activities to be related significantly to reduced adolescent alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drug use Jenkins Widely cited meta-analyses e.
Peer programs were defined as interventions that included social and life skills training, including refusal skills.
Alternative programs were defined as interventions that included the provision of positive activities more appealing than drug use e. The meta-analyses found that alternative programs overall were less effective than peer programs. Among the alternative programs, those that involved high-risk youth and that involved many hours of activities were most effective.
That report concluded that there was no strong research support for the alternative approach.Another important contribution was the final report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Task Force on College Drinking (NIAAA ), which reviewed epidemiological and intervention research on college drinking and issued recommendations for prevention strategies.
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Dec 15, · Despite decades of research, hundreds of campus task forces and millions invested in bold experiments, college drinking in the United States remains as much of a problem as ever. Sep 22, · With nearly 40% of college students admitting they binge drink, a federal agency offers schools some research on what might work best to stem excessive drinking.
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Underage drinking is common in the U.S. Alcohol abuse is a problem among some young people but proven, effective and inexpensive solutions already exist.
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