School-Based Interventions Can Reduce Teen Substance Use
Join Together – Research Summary – September 1, 2010
New research from the United Kingdom suggests that personality-based interventions — delivered by mental-health specialists or teachers given brief training — can substantially reduce drug and alcohol use in teens, the BBC
In the first study involving more than 700 London secondary-school students aged 13 to 16, researchers assessed participants’ personality strengths and weaknesses, then randomly assigned half the group to a two-session intervention with mental-health specialists and the other half to no intervention. The teens who received the intervention were 40% less likely to binge drink and 80% less likely to take cocaine than those receiving no intervention.
In the second study, 696 secondary-school students were randomly assigned to personality-based interventions delivered by teachers who had received only three days of training and three hours of supervised practice. An additional 463 students were assigned to no intervention.
At six months, participants in the intervention group delivered by teachers were 40% less likely to drink and 55% less likely to binge-drink than those with no intervention.
The researchers said these results could serve as the cornerstone of a sustainable and cost-effective school-based prevention program.
“It’s about coping with the trait rather than changing the personality. In no way do we ever suggest they stop being who they are or change who they are,” says Patricia Conrod, Ph.D., a consulting clinical psychologist at King’s College and co-author of the study.
The studies were published in the January 2010 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry and the September 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
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