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Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Apr;24(2):238-42. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32834faa83.

Interventions for adolescent alcohol use.

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Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.



Adolescent alcohol use is a considerable public health problem, contributing to the leading causes of adolescent morbidity and mortality. Additionally, adolescent alcohol use is a major risk factor for adult alcohol use disorders. Successful prevention of and interventions for adolescent alcohol use may thus have significant public health impact. This article reviews the current literature on adolescent alcohol prevention and intervention strategies.


Systematic reviews and meta-analyses find that a variety of adolescent alcohol interventions are effective at reducing adolescents' alcohol use, as well as harmful behaviors associated with alcohol use. Long-term treatment is not necessarily superior, as brief interventions have been found to have a large effect size. Additionally, universal interventions (i.e., those that target all families within a group) may be more successful than selective interventions (i.e., those that target only certain families within a group). Intervention effects tend to wane 6-12 months after the cessation of treatment. The results of prevention interventions are more mixed. Many different intervention modalities have been shown to be effective, particularly family-based interventions, as have both universal and targeted interventions.


A wide range of interventions are effective at reducing the harm of adolescent alcohol use. It is unclear which intervention(s) is/are optimal or most efficacious. Additionally, further research is needed on how to maintain long-term intervention effects. It is less clear which prevention strategies are most efficacious. Family-based interventions appear to be most promising.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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