Best School-Based Practices to Reduce Underage Drinking

Calender Posted on: February 1, 2021clock Time to read: 2 minutes

Many educators and school leaders want to do more to prevent and reduce underage drinking. However, this is not an easy task. Teens constantly face peer pressure and natural curiosity, which both lead them to experiment with alcohol.

Focus your school-based intervention program on behavioral, cognitive, and social skill-building in addition to character education and targeted behavioral support. The goal is to create a safe, supportive environment at your school while equipping students with the emotional regulation skills to improve their decision making.

The Severity of Teenage Drinking

Most people are aware that a lot of teenagers experiment with alcohol. However, many people do not realize the full extent of the problem. According to a 2019 NIH study on underage drinking: people ages 12-20 drink 4.1 percent of all of the alcohol consumed in America every year. Also, this study revealed that in 2019, 825,000 young people reported binge drinking on 5 or more days in the last month. Between alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, alcohol is the most-used substance among American adolescents.1

According to research published by Madd.org, youth who start drinking before 15 years old are 6 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking after age 21. Teenage alcohol use kills 4,300 people every year.2

Promising School-Based Intervention Practices

A study from Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, demonstrated that school-based intervention programs can have a positive impact on preventing teen alcohol use.3

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are certain skills training and approaches that school-based intervention programs should prioritize  to boost success.4

Skills Training Topics by Grade Level

For elementary school-based intervention programs to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, the programs should focus on teaching:

  • Self-control
  • Emotional awareness
  • Communication
  • Social problem solving
  • Academic support, especially in reading

For middle school, junior high, and high school, substance abuse programs should focus on teaching the following to increase program effectiveness:

  • Study habits and academic support
  • Communication
  • Peer relationships
  • Self-efficacy and assertiveness
  • Drug resistance skills
  • Reinforcement of anti-drug attitudes
  • Strengthening of personal commitments against substance abuse

It is also important to note that “scare tactics” and zero-tolerance approaches have been linked with negative outcomes.5 Instead, you should focus your school-based intervention program on behavioral, cognitive, and social skill-building in addition to character education and targeted behavioral support. The goal is to create a safe, supportive environment at your school while equipping students with the emotional regulation skills to improve their decision making.

Recommendations for Good Practice Approaches 

Use Tested and Effective Frameworks. 

Research has shown that individual-focused approaches are most suitable for one-time or short-term problems and that interpersonal frameworks are better for longer-term problems. Individual-focused approaches may be incorporated with other methods of support.

Map Out a Plan for Program Implementation and Evaluation.

Before you begin your intervention, you should also do a needs assessment, define the goals of the intervention, and create a program implementation plan. All of these things will help you to create a more effective school-based intervention. 

Plan the evaluation parallel to program development. Some planners neglect to consider evaluation until after the program is already running. Instead, you should know exactly how you will evaluate the intervention before you actually implement it. This way you will know exactly how to evaluate the intervention to see if it meets your goals without having to rush to create an evaluation plan after it finishes.

Share Your Findings with Your Colleagues.

Finally, you should conduct comprehensible dissemination of the findings of your intervention after it concludes. Communicate program information like costs and outcomes to the relevant stakeholders, like administrators or members of the alcohol prevention community. This will allow you to reflect on whether the programming will be continued or modified.  

A Full-Spectrum Approach

In order for these programs to be effective, they cannot be one-dimensional such as the “Just say no” approach.

Effective school-based intervention programs teach adolescents a wide range of psychological coping skills to help them deal with peer pressure and social influence and resist drugs and alcohol. The goal is to support the whole child and keep them on the path to health, wellness, and success.

Implementing an Effective School-Based Intervention Program At Your School

If you would like to bring an effective school-based intervention program to your school, then feel free to get in touch with us today. We have online courses available that can teach students about the dangers of alcohol use and how to avoid underage drinking.

In these courses, students develop the awareness and skills that they need in order to make healthy decisions about alcohol. To bring online alcohol prevention and intervention courses to your school, get in touch today by calling (888) 810 - 7990, scheduling a demo, or emailing info@3rdmil.com.

Conclusion

By educating youths properly to avoid underage drinking, schools can change minds, lives, and student outcomesSchool-based intervention can help students build the skills they need to resist alcohol abuse and its negative consequences.  

 
References
  1. "Underage Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/underage-drinking
  2. “Teen Drinking.” Mothers Against Drunk Driving. https://www.madd.org/the-problem/#teendrinking
  3. Strøm, Henriette Kyrrestad; Adolfsen, Frode; Fossum, Sturla; Kaiser, Sabine; &  Martinussen, Monica. "Effectiveness of school-based preventive interventions on adolescent alcohol use: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 2014. https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1747-597X-9-48
  4. "Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents (In Brief): Prevention Principles." National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/preventing-drug-use-among-children-adolescents/prevention-principles
  5. "Public awareness, school-based and early interventions to reduce alcohol related harm: A tool kit for evidence-based good practices." Reducing Alcohol Related Harm. https://www.landlaeknir.is/servlet/file/store93/item33905/Public%20awareness,school-based%20and%20early%20interventions%20to%20reduce%20alcohol%20related%20harm.PDF