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How To Prevent Youth Alcohol Abuse, An Indepth Report

6058 words - 25 pages

Alcohol use by underage drinkers is a persistent public health problem in the United States, and alcohol is the most commonly used drug among adolescents. Accordingly, numerous approaches have been developed and studied that aim to prevent underage drinking. Some approaches are school based, involving curricula targeted at preventing alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana use. Other approaches are extracurricular, offering activities outside of school in the form of social or life skills training or alternative activities. Other strategies strive to involve the adolescents' families in the prevention programs. Policy strategies also have been implemented that have increased the minimum legal ...view middle of the document...

In addition, 24 percent of the eighth graders reported having used alcohol in the past month and 9 percent reported having been drunk in the past month (Johnston et al. 2000). These rates are higher than those for use of tobacco or any illegal drug (Johnston et al. 2000).A strong relationship appears to exist between alcohol use among youth and many social, emotional, and behavioral problems, such as using illegal drugs, fighting, stealing, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, skipping school, feeling depressed, and deliberately trying to hurt or kill themselves. In addition to the problems that occur during adolescence, early initiation of alcohol consumption is related to alcohol-related problems later in life. One study found that early onset of alcohol use (i.e., by age 12) was associated with subsequent alcohol abuse and related problem behaviors in later adolescence, including alcohol-related violence, injuries, drinking and driving, absenteeism from school or work, and increased risk for using other drugs (Gruber et al. 1996). Another study found that people who begin drinking before age 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence during their lifetime than are people who begin drinking at age 21 (Grant and Dawson 1997). Therefore, it is clearly an important public health goal to delay the inination of alcohol use among young adolescents for the benefit of their current and long-term health.To develop effective programs to prevent alcohol use among young adolescents, it is necessary to first identify the causes of use. The identification of those causes involves a combination of theory and research. According to the theory of triadic influence (TTI), which integrates many behavioral theories into a comprehensive "mega-theory" of health behavior, all behaviors have roots in three domains: the person's personal characteristics, current social situation, and cultural environment (Flay and Petraitis 1994). The TTI also specifies different levels of influence on behavior for various factors. For example, proximal factors directly pertain to the drinker (e.g., attitudes and perceived norms around alcohol) and more distal factors pertain to the drinker's environment (e.g., parental practices or laws and policies influencing access to alcohol).Consistent with the TTI, personal, social, and environmental factors repeatedly have been found to be associated with alcohol use among adolescents (Hawkins et al. 1992; Komro et al. 1997). Personal influences promoting alcohol use include rebelliousness, tolerance of deviance, a high value on independence and nonconformance, low school commitment and achievement, positive beliefs and attitudes toward alcohol use, and lack of selfefficacy to refuse offers of alcohol. Social influences favoring adolescent alcohol use include low socioeconomic status and minimal parental education, family disruption and conflict, weak family bonds, low parental supervision, parental...

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