Program Targets Characteristics That Cause Substance Abuse

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The Adventure trial is a program put to use in England where teachers provided alcohol abuse interventions to children matching certain personality traits. The trial started with 13 and 14 year olds and continued with the same group for two years. As Maia Szalavitz of Time reports, the results were significant, to put it mildly.

Overall, schools with the Adventure trial in place saw 29-percent fewer students drinking than schools without it. Those children labeled as “at-risk” matching the predetermined personality traits had a 43-percent lower rate of binge drinking than similar students at other schools.

By contrast, programs currently being used in school to prevent substance abuse, such as D.A.R.E, at best cut binge drinking by 10-percent.

The Adventure trial is the first substance abuse program targeting teens that takes into account the cause of underage drinking. Their four personality characteristics were identified as anxious, feeling hopeless, impulsive and thrill seekers.

Trained teachers held two 90-minute sessions on each trait, but instead of focusing on drinking in connection with them, they spoke about students’ reactions to life experiences and ways to regulate behavior.

We know now that a program tailored to educate and find the cause of underage drinking is effective, but researchers are now curious as to whether similar programs could also help reduce rates of mental illness because the same four personality traits also are connected to increased risk for mental health problems.

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