After-school Alcohol Education Program for Middle School Ages Shows Positive Results

The age at which children begin drinking is surprising. According to a pamphlet distributed by the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse, “by 8th grade, 38.9% of American children have tried alcohol and 17.9% of 8th graders have been drunk at least once.” 

To combat these percentages Elizabeth D’Amico, a psychologist who has been conducting research for the last 15 years on developing and implementing individual and group interventions for adolescents that target alcohol and drug use and risky sexual behavior, recently conducted a study which examined the usefulness of an after-school substance prevention program for middle school youths. The study examined the CHOICE program, an after-school program presented during five 30-minute sessions in a non-confrontational and non-judgmental manner. The program dispels myths about the prevalence of alcohol use, challenges unrealistic beliefs about substance use, presents ideas on resisting pressure to use substances and stresses the benefits of reducing or ceasing substance use. The CHOICE program is geared only toward middle school youths at 8 middle schools in Southern California. The researchers compared these schools to 8 randomized middle schools in the same area that did not provide CHOICE or a similar program,

D’Amico and her team of researchers found that this voluntary substance prevention program held after school and presented by trained facilitators helped reduce alcohol use among young adolescents. Their results found that African American and multi-ethnic students, as well as alcohol and marijuana users, were more likely to attend CHOICE. Most students surveyed after completing the program said they liked the style of the program and found the facilitators helpful. Also, researchers found a school-wide effect on alcohol use for all students at the intervention schools, regardless of whether they attended CHOICE. Students at the eight schools that offered the CHOICE program were less likely to initiate alcohol use during the academic year compared to students at the eight control schools where the program was not offered.

“Overall, results of the study were modest and additional research in this area is definitely needed,” D’Amico said. “But our findings suggest that adolescents will voluntarily attend an after-school program that specifically provides information on alcohol and drugs, and that this type of program can reduce alcohol use at the school level. This study is the next step in understanding how voluntary after-school programs can help younger adolescents make healthier choices.”

Beginning March 1st Adolescent Counseling Services,’ through our Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Program, will be offering substance abuse prevention education classes; one targeted toward parents of youth (15-21) and one targeted to parents of youth (10-14). The class for parents of young adults (ages 15-21) will be held on the first Thursday of every month from 6:15 pm to 7:45pm. Classes for parents of youth (ages 10-14) will be offered on the third Thursday of every month from 6:15pm to 7:45pm. Both classes will take place at the ACS corporate offices located at 1717 Embarcadero Road, Suite 4000, Palo Alto, CA 94303  These classes will focus on educating parents about drugs and drug use, how to know if your child is at risk or using, how to talk to your child about this topic, and steps for getting help.

For more information or to sign-up, please contact Connie Mayer, Director of Outpatient Counseling Services at or 650-424-0852 ext. 104.

To read the entire article this post is based from go here

To read the entire pdf from the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse titled “Keep Kids Alcohol Free:Strategies for Action” you can go here

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