Alcohol use by underage drinkers is a persistent public health problem in the United States – alcohol is the most commonly used drug among adolescents. Research shows a strong relationship between alcohol use among youth and their social, emotional, and behavioral problems. This includes using illegal drugs, fighting, stealing, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs, skipping school, feeling depressed, and deliberately trying to hurt or kill themselves.
According to the theory of triadic influence (TTI), all behaviors have roots in three domains:
- the person’s personal characteristics;
- the person’s current social situation; and
- the person’s cultural environment.
This provides us with practical guidance on developing strategies to prevent adolescent alcohol use. When we understand the interrelatedness of personal, social, and environmental factors in determining behavior, we can better plan prevention efforts. Thus, the focus of prevention approaches has broadened from individual personality characteristics to the social world of the adolescent (family and peers) and to macrolevel environmental factors (community and societal messages, norms, and availability).
Consequently, specific prevention programs have been developed for use in schools, for families, and in the community, such as L.A. CADA’s Drug-Free Communities project.
See Family Prevention in Action: Don’t be a Friend, Be a Parent