NIH study: Research-based strategies help reduce underage drinking

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 14, 2014

“Strategies recommended by the Surgeon General to reduce underage drinking have shown promise when put into practice, according to scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health. These approaches include nighttime restrictions on young drivers and strict license suspension policies, interventions focused on partnerships between college campuses and the community, and routine screening by physicians to identify and counsel underage drinkers. NIAAA researchers Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., and Aaron White, Ph.D., evaluated studies conducted since the 2007 “Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.” A report of their findings appears in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs…Since 2007, alcohol use and heavy drinking have shown appreciable declines in national surveys of middle and high school students. One study found that 12th-grade alcohol use declined from 66.4 percent to 62 percent in 2013, with a similar downward trend seen in eighth- and 10th-graders. The researchers’ analysis of recent studies on driving policies found that certain driving laws affecting underage drivers deter drunk driving and reduce fatal crashes. Graduated driver licensing laws for underage drivers, which include nighttime restrictions, and use/lose laws that lead to license suspension for an alcohol violation, have been effective, the review said. Individuals under the age of 21 are half as likely to drive after drinking in states with the strongest use/lose and graduated licensing laws, based on a national study.”

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