Washington, DC, 30 August 2010 The coming weeks mark the return to school for many of our youngest citizens. Sadly the satisfaction of making new friends and obtaining good test scores may be overshadowed by the prospect of substance abuse for some school-aged adolescents. The previous decade has witnessed a two-fold increase in both alcohol consumption and intoxication by adolescents age 12 to 17.1,2 In an effort to combat these startling findings, researchers at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry describe a successful personality-based intervention for substance abuse delivered by teachers in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.3
In the article titled "Personality-Targeted Interventions Delay Uptake of Drinking and Decrease Risk of Alcohol-Related Problems When Delivered by Teachers," Principal Investigator Dr. Patricia Conrod and colleagues evaluated 2,506 adolescents, with a mean age of 13.7, using the Substance Use Risk Profile scale; a 23-item questionnaire which assesses personality risk for substance abuse along four dimensions including sensation-seeking, impulsivity, anxiety-sensitivity, and hopelessness.
Of the 1,159 students identified by researchers as being at high risk for substance abuse, 624 received intervention as part of the Adventure Trial and a matched high risk group of 384 received no intervention. School based interventions consisted of two 90 minute group sessions conducted by a trained educational professional. In order to adequately evaluate the students, the teachers attended a 3-day rigorous workshop, followed by 4 hour supervision and feedback session. An 18 point checklist was used to determine whether the teachers demonstrated a good understanding of the aims and components of the programs.
Although the trial is designed to evaluate mental health symptoms, academic achievement, and substance u
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