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Proven Alcohol Interventions: SBI and Ad Restrictions


Eric Morris’s always-entertaining Freakonomics blog at the New York Times this week asks what works in getting people to drink less alcohol. As usual, the economist references an impressive array of research as he weighs in on the various interventions available.

Morris’ conclusion: screening and brief intervention has the most promise, and while restrictions on alcohol advertising seems to work, it’s doubtful that serious curbs will ever be enacted.

There’s less evidence that school-based drug prevention, parent education, social marketing, PSAs, or warning labels work to keep teens from drinking, writes Morris.

“It is much harder to prove that something doesn’t exist than to prove that it does exist, and it is quite possible that there are some persuasion programs out there that might be a silver bullet,” allows Morris. “Perhaps the fact that half of the programs in some of these studies had an effect is good news, not bad: we can now build on these strategies.

“On the other hand, it should be noted that even in cases where statistically significant results can be shown, the actual magnitude of the effects can still be disappointingly small … In all, we’d definitely like to see more conclusive evidence that these methods work, and thus far we don’t quite have it.”

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