April 16 | By Rachael
The findings of a new study revealed that substance abuse preventive interventions reduce the likelihood of the onset of alcohol use disorders (AUD) among middle school students during adulthood. This comes in the wake of the earlier finding that early exposure to alcohol escalates the risk of developing alcoholism in adulthood. The study surveyed the impact of a universal middle school prevention program on the rate of alcohol abuse and AUD after around half a decade among Mexican-American adolescents. As a follow-up study, researchers used the data from a randomized trial that examined the impact of a combined evidence-based intervention when the participating teenagers were in grade 12.
Many unhealthy habits like alcohol abuse often start during adolescence and turn into a major public health challenge later. Alcohol abuse significantly impacts individuals by causing social, physical and mental health problems. Furthermore, unhealthy and risky patterns of drinking, such as underage drinking or binge drinking, increase the risk of unsafe sex and sexual assault, school dropout, violence, drunk driving, etc. Youngsters, who start drinking early, mostly before attaining the age of 14, tend to indulge in chronic and intensive drinking patterns. This increases the risk of developing AUDs.
A new study led by Nancy A. Gonzales, Department of Psychology and REACH Institute, Arizona State University, conducted a follow-up of a randomized clinical trial comprising 516 Mexican American adolescents and at least one parent of the Mexican origin. Interventions, including recruitment, screening, pretest and randomization, were carried out in the same academic year for each cohort: 2003-2004, 2004-2005, and 2005-2006. Among the initial 516 students, around 420 teens were included in the follow-up study.
The follow-up study found that the family-based intervention conducted in middle school diminished the chances of developing AUD. Compared to the intervention group participants, those in the control group were 2.5 times more likely to develop AUD, with around 8.6 percent of control group participants and around 3.9 percent of intervention participants displaying the signs of AUD.
The results of the study show a connection between interventions and AUD, as well as the way reduction in adolescent drinking plays a vital role in reducing short- and long-term public health harms. In order to enhance adoption of effective and competent interventions at the school level, the need of the hour is to develop infrastructure and capacity of communities and schools. This will be more useful for the communities wrestling with the challenge of binge drinking and substance abuse, such as the American Latinos. Such conclusions are consistent with the analysis that the most reliable evidence-based interventions are those that concurrently intensify youth spirit, encourage effective parenting and family relationships, and enhance focus on the school environment.
Alcoholism affects people of all ages. Around 16 million American are struggling with AUD. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 488,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 had AUD in 2015. Once caught in the vicious cycle of alcohol abuse, it is essential to be aware of its signs and symptoms to take effective measures as soon as possible. The integration of intervention programs in schools can help people in identifying and treating alcohol-related problems among teenagers.
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