Alternative Events for Youth

Description of Strategy

This strategy focuses on providing alternative drug- and alcohol-free activities on “high risk nights,” such as after prom or after graduation. Examples of alternative activities include open gym and movies held at school, dances, ski trips, and other recreational activities. Youth involvement in planning alcohol-free activities may be an effective way to create well attended events, as well as prevent alcohol use among youth (Komro et al., 1996).

Also known as...

RAD, ROAD Activities, W.A.T.C.H., After-prom parties

Discussion of Effectiveness

Alcohol

The evidence of effectiveness is varied with regard to alternative events for youth and alcohol-related outcomes, although evidence suggests this strategy may be effective at reducing problematic drinking and driving after drinking as part of a multi-component program on college campuses (Hingson et al., 1996; Saltz, Welker, Paschall, Feeney, & Fabiano, 2009).

Tobacco

There is limited recent evidence on the effectiveness of alternative events for youth for tobacco- and other drug-related outcomes. A study of effective substance abuse prevention programs for high-risk youth found that programs focused on behavioral life skills programming were significantly more effective at reducing 30-day alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use than affective and knowledge-focused programs, although the number of recreation-focused programs was small (Springer et al., 2004).

References

Strategy Description

Komro, K.A., Perry, C.L., Murray, D.M., Veblen-Mortenson, S., Williams, C.L., & Anstine, P.S. (1996). Peer-planned social activities for preventing alcohol use among young adolescents. Journal of School Health, 66(9), 328-334.

Evidence Base

Carmona, M., & Stewart, K. (1996). Review of alternative activities and alternative programs in youth-oriented prevention. National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Hingson, R., McGovern, T., Howland, J., Heeren, T., Winter, M., & Zakocs, R. (1996). Reducing alcohol-impaired driving in Massachusetts: The saving lives program. American Journal of Public Health, 86, 791-797.

Komro, K.A., Perry, C.L., Murray, D.M., Veblen-Mortenson, S., Williams, C.L., & Anstine, P.S. (1996). Peer-planned social activities for preventing alcohol use among young adolescents. Journal of School Health, 66(9), 328-334.

Saltz, R.F., Welker, L.R., Paschall, M.J., Feeney, M.A., & Fabiano, P.M. (2009). Evaluating a comprehensive campus-community prevention intervention to reduce alcohol-related problems in a college population. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, (Suppl 16): 21-27.

Springer, J. F., Sale, E., Hermann, J., Sambrano, S., Kasim, R., & Nistler, M. (2004). Characteristics of effective substance abuse prevention programs for high-risk youth. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 25(2), 171–194. doi:10.1023/B:JOPP.0000042388.63695.3f

Wei, J., Barnett, N.P., & Clark, M. (2010). Attendance at alcohol-free and alcohol-service parties and alcohol consumption among college students. Addictive Behaviors, 35(6), 572–579. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.01.008

Futher Reading

Hingson, R., McGovern, T., Howland, J., Heeren, T., Winter, M., & Zakocs, R. (1996). Reducing alcohol-impaired driving in Massachusetts: The Saving Lives Program. American Journal of Public Health, 86(6), 791-797.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.). A guide to safe and sober event planning.

Students Against Destructive Decisions. (n.d.). Planning a safe prom.

Virginia Department of Education. (2008). Celebrate life! A guide for planning all night alcohol/drug-free celebrations for teens.