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Rate of teen binge drinking cut more than 1/3 by prevention system
Date:9/7/2009

Rates of binge drinking were 37 percent lower among eighth-grade students in communities in seven states that used a prevention system designed to reduce drug use and delinquent behavior compared to teenagers in communities that did not use the system.

Eighth graders in the towns that offered the Communities That Care prevention system also had significantly lower levels of alcohol and smokeless tobacco use and engaged in fewer delinquent behaviors, according to a new University of Washington paper being published Monday (Sept. 7) in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The findings come from the ongoing Community Youth Development Study that compares teenagers living in 12 pairs of small- to moderate-size towns in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Utah and Washington. It is tracking the behavior of more than 4,400 students for five years. The study is the first community-randomized trial of Communities That Care, a system developed by J. David Hawkins and Richard Catalano of the UW's Social Development Research Group to lower rates of delinquency and drug use and to promote healthy behaviors.

"This study shows we can prevent adolescent risk behaviors community wide by using this system," said Hawkins, lead author of the paper and founding director of the research group, a part of the UW's School of Social Work.

"The most dramatic finding concerned binge drinking. We asked youngsters if they had consumed five or more drinks of alcohol in one sitting in the past two weeks. We know kids who drink that way are at risk for developing alcohol abuse and dependence later. This binge drinking is occurring when children are 13 and 14 years of age, so we are actually preventing the likelihood of later alcohol problems. This is very important from a public health standpoint."

The study found that 5.7 percent of the eighth-grade students in the intervention towns engaged in binge drinki
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Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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