ALCOHOL ABUSE PREVENTION AMONG YOUNGSTERS
Alcohol abuse among young people before they reach independency and maturity, which is present in the last decade in a European culture, is a new phenomenon in a history of mankind. Before adults who were physically and mentally matured and socially independent were the ones who were getting drunk. Alcohol abuse of young people can have severe consequences especially for their learning and social development. While a couple of decades ago drug abuse started among youngsters, in recent years alcohol abuse in combination with other drugs is expanding. The age of such young alcohol abusers is decreasing.
In the school year 2006/2007 our Institute started with a 3 year pilot project “Alcohol abuse prevention among youngsters” in a three primary schools of Ljubljana (Miško Kranjc, Kolezija, Vida Pregarc). Along with this project, we are implementing a similar project "It's good to live", which includes five elementary schools.
The project “Alcohol abuse prevention among youngsters” is pursuing scientific knowledge on one of the few opportunities for the prevention of drinking among youngsters in a modern wet culture in Europe. The program is implemented in primary schools, and includes children just before they enter puberty. Pupils of the 5th classes meet monthly on the eight workshops, during class hours.
Through an active social learning with a help of the Institute's professional staff or trained students-volunteers, we teach them how to form their own personal attitude towards drinking and obtain social skills to put forward their attitudes among peers. In the following school years the same pupils strengthen the acquired skills within an intensive twice a year workshop. Workshops are designed to maintain the skills of children. In these workshops we introduced also the topics concerning prevention of other addictions and natural disorders in particular, the prevention of drug, cigarettes, gambling and computer addiction and eating disorders. In the final year of primary school we carry out for all pupils an intensive all-day workshop, where they deepen their knowledge and clarify their views on how to recognize and understand the harmful consequences of alcohol abuse.
The aim of this programme is to raise awareness among parents, teachers and children about the consequences of alcohol drinking and to equip them with the knowledge, skills and positions to be able to form a mature attitude to alcohol. Participation of parents, teachers and experts in the field of alcohol prevention is essential in order to successfully address the problem of excessive drinking of young people, because individually, we are powerless. Therefore parallel with the children their parents and the entire teaching staff of the school are included in a programme. Experts from our institute meet three times a year with parents of the pupils of the 5th grade where we present the programme, prepare a workshop for the parents where we together formulate the rules for moderate drinking in the family and arrange a final meeting where pupils present what they have achieved in the workshops throughout the school year. We also inform all the teachers in primary schools on the programme.
This programme was positively evaluated by the parents, teachers, the head of the schools and mostly, by the pupils. We have conducted a small survey among pupils from the 8th grade, who were a part of the programme for two years and pupils from the 8th grades that were not included in a programme. We were examining their attitudes to a healthy life style and attitude towards alcohol. We found out that pupils included in our programme had much clearer positions towards alcohol drinking as in a control group.