Alcohol Education: What We Must Do

Alcohol Education: What We Must Do

Alcohol Education: What We Must Do

Alcohol Education: What We Must Do


In spite of a massive national investment in alcohol education, the evidence clearly demonstrates that our current efforts are overwhelmingly ineffective and are often counterproductive. The assessment of the effectiveness of alcohol programs over the past 15 years reveals that those based on the responsible-use approach tend to be superior to those based on the abstinence approach. Hanson puts the historical relationship between Americans and alcohol into perspective, discusses federal policies on alcohol that are highly ideological and biased, and advocates the development of responsible-use curricula that will prepare students to be, as adults, responsible consumers of alcohol.


Beverage alcohol has been praised as a sign of refinement, a social lubricant, a source of relaxation, an enchancer of food, a healthful tonic, and a complement to celebration and good times. But it has also been cursed as a poison, a cause of crime, a defiler of innocence, a destroyer of happy families, and a cause of disease and death. People in the United States tend to have strong, and often mixed, feelings about beverage alcohol. This has long been the case. For this reason, public policy toward it has changed repeatedly as successive waves of various prohibitionist and neoprohibitionist movements have ebbed and flowed across the country.

One of these movements led to the widespread establishment of alcohol education programs over 100 year ago. Current alcohol education reflects both its abstinence origins at that time as well as the dramatic expansion of drug education several decades ago.

In spite of noble intentions and the expenditure of massive amounts of time, energy, and money the best evidence shows that current abstinence-oriented alcohol education is ineffective. Simply doing more of what is not working will not lead to success; it is essential that we re-think our approach to the problem. Our youth are too important and the stakes are too high to do otherwise.

Several recommendations for change are presented in the final chapter of this book. The research has proven that we must promote the development and evaluation of diverse responsible alcohol use curricula based on a sociocultural understanding of how best to reduce alcohol abuse.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.