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While nothing works better than abstinence at reducing you or your children’s risk of addiction, certain prevention programs can help a lot, even for those that have progressed to heavy drinking or drug use.

Two prevention programs that have been extensively studied and research proven effective in helping drug or alcohol abusers or binge drinkers cut down are:

  • Brief interventions
  • Social norms prevention programs

Social Norms

Social norms programs have been studied amongst college binge drinkers and have been proven an easy, low cost and effective way to persuade heavy or binge drinkers to reduce their intake.

College students tend to have a misperception about the drinking habits of their peers – overestimating how much other students are drinking and how much other students approve of heavy drinking behaviors.

When heavy drinkers are given access to accurate information about the alcohol intake of their peers and how other students perceive heavy alcohol use, they are very likely to cut down their own alcohol use.

(At Florida State University, a social norms campaign is credited with reducing heavy drinking by 15% amongst male students since 2002) 1

Brief Interventions

A brief intervention is a quick meeting between someone who is possibly drinking at an unhealthy level (alcohol abuse) and a counselor, a doctor or another professional.

These meetings take only a few minutes and are typically non judgmental or coercive in nature. The drinker is given information about the health consequences of heavy use and about what is considered safer use.

Using motivational interviewing techniques, brief interventions get people who may be abusing alcohol (but who aren’t yet dependent) thinking about how alcohol may be harming health and well-being and provides some tools for reducing consumption, if desired.

It only takes a moment, it costs very little to provide these types of brief interventions and study after study shows how effective these interventions are at getting people to reduce the amount they drink.

(Studies are typically performed in health care settings such as in hospitals, or in college environments)

Don’t Rely on the School to Keep Your Son or Daughter Safe!

While a lot of money and time has been spent on school drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs over the last couple of decades – recent research suggests that schools are not well suited to play a primary or effective role in preventing drug or alcohol use.

The Join Together group at Columbia University came to this conclusion after surveying teachers from kindergarten to grade 12 about the realities in the classroom and the effectiveness of the prevention programs they are mandated to teach. 2

Drug and alcohol prevention is the family’s responsibility!

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Page last updated Aug 30, 2010

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