Can Teacher-Led Interventions Curb Teen Drinking?

By Ben Feuerherd 01/24/13

Canada trained high school teachers to intervene with "at-risk" students, and it worked.

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New "personality-targeted" interventions conducted by high school teachers in Canada have been found to reduce odds of problem drinking in adolescents. Investigators from the Universite de Montreal trained staff members at 21 secondary schools in London, Ontario to intervene with "at-risk" kids, in the hopes of reducing teen alcohol abuse. Students, even those who did not drink, were deemed "at-risk" if they showed certain personality traits, including: anxiety sensitivity, hopelessness, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. A follow up after two years yielded encouraging results: the schools that participated in personality-targeted interventions reported 29% reduced odds of drinking, 43% reduced odds of binge drinking, and 29% reduced odds of problem drinking. "The current findings not only provide replication of the efficacy of this intervention program for HR [high-risk] youth but also contribute to the evidence in support of its long-term effectiveness when administered by appropriately trained school staff," the study authors conclude. The researchers believe implementing this tactic on a broader level would be beneficial to the public. They write: "considering the enormous costs of alcohol misuse to society and the brief and inexpensive nature of this targeted program, nationwide implementation could potentially translate to substantial savings to the public."

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Benjamin Feuerherd is a city reporter at the New York Post. He has previously worked for The Daily Beast and NBC. You can find him on Linkedin and Twitter