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
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, anxietysensitivity, 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 programmes.
Although the trial is designed to evaluate mental health symptoms, academic achievement, and
substance use uptake over a 2 year period, the authors have focused their findings on the six month
outcomes of drinking and binge-drinking rates, quantity by frequency of alcohol use, and drinking related problems.
Author and Trial Coordinator Maeve O’Leary-
Barrett comments that at six months, “Receiving an
intervention significantly decreased the likelihood of reporting drinking alcohol at follow-up, with the
control group 1.7 times more likely to report alcohol use than the intervention group (odds ratio, 0.6).”
Receiving an intervention also predicted significantly lower binge-drinking rates in students who reported alcohol use at baseline (odds ratio, 0.45), indicating a 55% decreased risk of binge-drinking in this group compared with controls. High-risk intervention-school students reported lower quantity by frequency of alcohol use and drinking-related problems compared with the non-treatment group at follow-up.
The Adventure Trial is the first to evaluate the success of the personality-targeted interventions as delivered by teachers. The findings at six months suggest that this approach may provide a sustainable school-base
prevention programme for youth at risk for substance abuse.
Source: Personality-Targeted Interventions Delay Uptake of Drinking and Decrease Risk of Alcohol-Related Problems When Delivered by Teachers. O’Leary-Barrett M, Mackie CJ, Castellanos-Ryan N, Al-Khudhairy N, Conrod PJ. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2010; 49 (9): 954 DOI: y.