Giving Compass’ Take:
• As part of its larger report on addressing addiction through funding, The Center for High Impact Philanthropy provides a short guide on adolescent drinking and how targeting the riskiest users, rather than focusing on overall prevention, might be the best way to go.
• Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a method that can work for adults, but donor dollars could help expand its reach to younger people.
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance, and alcohol use disorders are the most common type of substance abuse disorder (SUD) among teens as well as adults. In 2013, for example, the rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 12%, and the rate of binge drinking was over 6%. However, even the most promising primary prevention efforts — those that aim to prevent any use of alcohol — have not delivered reductions in teen drinking.
While innovation in primary prevention is a worthwhile goal, there may be opportunities to make a difference by focusing on the riskiest users and helping them curb their use. This strategy has been effective in adults, and early research indicates that it may work for adolescents as well.
Philanthropy can support research into new settings and other adjustments to potentially make this a powerful tool to reach adolescents. In addition, learning more about how it works (or doesn’t work) for adolescents might yield
insights about how other services, such as SUD treatment, can be tailored for adolescents.
Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) offers a way to target prevention and early intervention toward the adolescents who need it most, but there are still questions about how best to deliver it and what impact might be possible.