Interventions to curb teenage drinking

January 27, 2010 by  
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Alcohol consumption is prevalent among teenagers. Yes, in teenagers, even if we as parents wouldn’t want to believe it. This is despite the fact the high minimum legal drinking age in the US. In Germany, coma and death due to alcohol intoxication has been reported in adolescents as young as 13. In Switzerland, a recent survey revealed that teenage girls may actually consume more alcohol than their male peers. In other words, except in Islam countries where alcohol is forbidden, teenage alcohol consumption is becoming a major health and social concern.

Previous studies (source: Medscape) on teen alcohol abuse reveal the following figures in survey of 8th and 12th graders:

  • 16% of 8th graders and 44% of 12th graders have had at least 1drink in the last 30 days.
  • 30% of 12th graders engage in binge drinking.
  • 3% of 12th graders consume alcohol every day.

Alcohol abuse in adolescents is not just about hormones and growing pains. The problems does not just stop with the abuse. Most often, alcohol consumption during adolescence is associated with more serious problems, including:

  • psychosocial problems
  • increased rates of mental health disorders
  • neurocognitive deficits
  • reduced motivation
  • higher likelihood of subsequent adult alcohol abuse

There are interventions which try to curb adolescent alcoholism. These interventions can be categorized into two formats:

  • Individual treatment, e.g. treatment provided directly to the teenager
  • Family-based treatment, e.g. treatment provided to and through the family.

Researchers analyzed data from research studies to see how effective these interventions are. The results revealed the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy integrated with a 12-step was most successful in reducing alcohol consumption.
  • Other effective interventions are brief motivational interviewing, active aftercare, multidimensional family therapy, and brief intervention with both adolescent and parent.
  • Family-based therapies that included cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral treatment, triple-modality social learning, multidimensional family therapy, and brief interventions had a moderate effect on alcohol consumption reduction.
  • Individual therapies seems to be more effective compared to family-based  interventions in reducing alcohol consumption.
  • The rate of dropping out from intervention programs is high.
  • Effects of interventions wane with time, becoming less effective 6 months.

According to Dr. Stephen J. Tripodiassistant professor in the College of Social Work at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

“One of our aims as scholars is to bridge the divide between research and practice. There is a lot of valuable information here for clinicians who work in alcohol treatment centers for adolescents and for clinicians who have adolescent clients with alcohol problems. While we clearly understand the inherent flaws in the concept of evidence-based interventions, we support the steps included in the process of evidence-based practice.”

The results of the study suggest that interventions focused on the individual is more effective than family-based intervention 9in the management of alcoholism in teenagers.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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