Charities believe the best way to treat addiction is to attack the problem before it emerges, therefor educating adolescents about the dangers of alcohol before they encounter it.
One way of implementing such an idea is to use teacher therapists to identify problem personality traits in teenagers, helping them to understand their behaviour which could be key in preventing alcohol and drug abuse.
Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London, conducted a study which involved asking more than 1,000 13 year-olds at secondary schools in London to answer a variety of questions about their personalities.
Researchers were trying to spot pupils with four personality traits: negative thinking, anxiety, impulsiveness and sensation seeking.
Of the students they believed possessed these traits, half were given two tailored therapy sessions, one 90 minutes in length and the second an hour. The sessions were carried out in small groups and teenagers with particular personality traits were encouraged to explore their personalities including any strengths and difficulties.
The idea of the sessions was to help the students understand and think about alternative ways of dealing with the risks associated with that behaviour and to learn certain techniques that could help them to cope with their first drink/drugs encounter.
The results of the study were extremely positive with the 13 – 16 year olds involved standing a 40% reduced risk of binge drinking and an 80% reduced risk of taking cocaine.
When asked to give feedback the participants told the researchers that the sessions seemed to help them control and handle their anger and negative thinking.
The researchers who conducted the study have said they believe this system could be implemented quite easily and could be successfully delivered using just two counsellors per borough who would teach and advise the school staff on how to lead sessions.
Though it will cost money the long term investment can’t be ignored and could save the NHS billions in the future.