Young people say NO to binge drinking

Young people say NO to binge drinking

Psychological  intervention reduces alcohol misuse in adolescence.

Like me, you may not be aware that 5000 young people are admitted to hospital every year for alcohol related problems. The pressure that young people face these days with regard to substance misuse are vast. The pressure to be part of the gang can be formidable, and that feeling of not being able to make up their own mind without being ridiculed can result in youngsters having to make difficult choices with regard to smoking, drinking,drugs and sex .

Having recognised this need  and to help young people to improve their sense of control in their lives, we have been using the Thrive psychological training programme in schools.

Interestingly there is a new piece of research that agrees with our idea and shows that a mental health approach to teenage drinking, in this instance, can be successful. The Adventure Trial, looking  into the risk teenagers face of becoming binge drinkers, have found that two years later those who had mental health therapy were less likely to drink or binge drink than high risk students who had not had the therapy at all. This trial was commissioned by the charity Action on Addiction, led by Patricia Conrod of  King’s College London’s  Institute of Psychiatry with the University of Montreal and Sainte Justine University Hospital Centre in Canada

The researchers looked at the personalities and drinking behaviours of just over 2,500 pupils aged between 13 and 14 dividing them into high risk or low risk  groups.  Some were then given training in psychological strategies to help them cope with their feelings and then the pupils drinking was monitored over a period of two years.

One of the interesting things about this piece of research was the link that was made between personality traits including anxiety problems or “low mood” as well as pupils being judged to be impulsiveness or thrill seekers.

There is a lot of evidence that “Carers (oral personality  type) just want to feel happy today. … Their desire for instant gratification is high  and their underlying drive is one of  I want to feel happy/good right now”  Kelly 2012 .

The ability to learn to tolerate undesirable and impulsive feelings and  to prove to themselves that this is possible , will improve the young persons internal locus of control and self esteem. They can learn to do this by developing their own skills in managing their thinking well.

The report goes on to day

“After two years, high-risk students in intervention schools were at a 29% reduced risk of drinking, 43% reduced risk of binge drinking and 29% reduced risk of problem drinking compared to high-risk students in control schools. The intervention also significantly delayed the natural progression to more risky drinking behavior (such as frequent binge drinking, greater quantity of drinking, and severity of problem drinking) in the high-risk students over the two years.

In addition to finding out that psychological intervention can help young people to change, it was also found that there was  a positive effect on those who did not receive any psychological support techniques, but who also attended the schools where pupils were being supported. This suggests that  a “herd effect” can be extremely beneficial to the larger population because of the reduction in the number of drinking sessions pupils were exposed to in early adolescence. Additionally, over the two year period, low-risk teenagers in the intervention schools, who did not receive the intervention, were at a 29% reduced risk of taking up drinking and 35% reduced risk of binge drinking compared to the low-risk group in the non-intervention schools, indicating a possible ‘herd effect’ in this population.


Dr Conrod adds: “Not only does the intervention have a significant effect on the teenagers most at risk of developing problematic drinking behavior, there was also a significant positive effect on those who did not receive the intervention, but who attended schools where interventions were delivered to high-risk students. This ‘herd effect’ is very important from a public health perspective as it suggests that the benefits of mental health interventions on drinking behavior also extend to the general population, possibly by reducing the number of drinking occasions young people are exposed to in early adolescence.”

 In 1987 TE Dielman also looked at the power of peer pressure.  “…results indicated that the self esteem and health locus of control constructs are less central to adolescents substance use and misuse than its susceptibility to peer pressure. The development of adolescent health behaviour interventions in the future should include an explicit focus on the reduction of susceptibility to peer pressure” (TE Dielman 1987)

 T.E Dielman et al in their paper “Susceptibility to Peer pressure, Self-esteem and Health Locus of Control as Correlates to Adolescent Substance Abuse” (Health Education Quarterly Vol 14(2) 207-221 Summer 1987)

 Nick Barton Chief Executive of Action on Addiction says “We know that problematic relationships with alcohol often start at a young age, so if it is possible to reduce the chances of harmful drinking and dependency in later life through school-based interventions we would welcome seeing this programme rolled out across UK schools.”

We have found that working through the Thrive programme clients quickly develop an awareness and understanding about them selves They learn about the significance of their personality and their unhelpful think styles and they learn too how to make decisions for themselves. From our research we know that Thrive trainees improve their internal locus of control by 75%. What a difference that can make to a young person sense of self worth.

CC Suffolk commented “…….( working through the Thrive programme ) has enabled me to develop a greater self awareness and understanding
of my own thinking styles. Reflecting on these has given me the mindset and resources to confront the negatives and develop more positive approaches.”

If you are a teacher in school and want to help your pupils have the abilities to make the right choices for themselves with regard to alcohol or any other substance misuse then take a look at

If you are worried about your child and would like to talk to a consultant about their alcohol or any other substance misuses then go to to find a consultant near you.

Kate Patterson

Thrive Blogger and Consultant 


Please watch this short video below:

The Thrive Programme is suitable for all and if you feel that life is merely ticking over for you, The Thrive Programme will enable you to master the skills and resources you need so that you won’t get anxious, stressed or depressed – whatever bumps in the road you encounter. If however, you are already suffering from depression or other mental health concerns (e.g. phobias, anxiety, stress, eating disorders, confidence issues, weight problems, children’s problems, social anxiety). The Thrive Programme is a quick, effective way to overcome these for good in 6 weeks, even if you have found other forms of therapy or treatment to be ineffective for you.
The Thrive Programme is revolutionising the way we create mental well-being.