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Harm reduction may be underpowered to avert alcohol problems in youth

05 Jun 2020

More lenient harm minimization policies appear to be less effective at cutting alcohol-related problems during young adulthood compared with stricter, zero-tolerance measures, a recent study has found.

Drawing from the International Youth Development Study, researchers looked at 1,965 young adults from Victoria, Australia (n=984) and Washington state, US (n=961). Early alcohol drinking behaviours were assessed at ages 13, 14 and 15 years, while problematic consumption was evaluated at 25 years of age using the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test.

At 15 years of age, 70 percent of Victorian participants had reported alcohol use in the previous month. This was statistically greater than the 42-percent rate in the Washington group (p<0.01).

This persisted until age 25 years, at which point 29 percent of the Victorians had an AUDIT score of at least 1, indicating some risk of problematic alcohol consumption. In comparison, only 17 percent of the Washington group had the same score (p<0.001). In both locations, alcohol misuse was more common among males.

Probit regression analysis found that before adjusting, early alcohol use was a significant predictor of AUDIT scores at 25 years of age (p=0.006). This remained true even when constrained to either location. “Thus, early use was equally predictive of later alcohol problems in both states,” the researchers said.

Victoria employed a harm-minimization approach to alcohol control, while Washington state adopted a zero-tolerance policy. “[R]esults from this study do not support harm reduction policy for preventing early alcohol use by normalizing adolescent use but discouraging excess use.”

While the effect of early use on AUDIT was comparable between groups, “because youth in Victoria reported higher rates of early use than youth in Washington by age 15 years, more Victorian youth were at risk for developing alcohol problems,” they added.

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Most Read Articles
Yesterday
Routinely used for treating cardiovascular diseases, statins have been shown to benefit other conditions, and new evidence suggests that using the drug at high intensity reduces the risk of hip or knee replacement, an effect that may be specific to rheumatoid arthritis.
Pearl Toh, 29 Jun 2020
Having migraine during midlife appears to be associated with a higher risk of developing dementia in later life, according to a large population-based longitudinal Danish study presented at the AHS* 2020 Virtual Meeting, indicating that migraine may be a risk factor for dementia.
30 Jun 2020
Patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) often suffer from liver abnormalities, which are associated with higher body mass index (BMI), daily consumption of alcohol, more severe disease, and some therapies, according to a recent study.
Christina Lau, 5 days ago

Pembrolizumab in combination with chemotherapy significantly improves progression-free survival (PFS) vs chemotherapy alone in patients with previously untreated, locally recurrent inoperable or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), results of the KEYNOTE-355 study have shown.