Effective Prevention Strategies


Prevention Strategies


of Problem










The Training Center

has created a framework for understanding the effective prevention strategies

that are available to prevent underage alcohol use. The framework divides

strategies into four types that can be seen as interrelated pieces of

the prevention puzzle.

The four types of strategies in the prevention

puzzle include:

  • Limitations on access to alcohol (link

    to description of this type of strategy)

  • Expressions of community norms against

    underage use (link to description of this type of strategy)

  • Impaired driving prevention (link to

    description of this type of strategy)

  • School-based prevention strategies

    (link to description of this type of strategy)


    Types of Strategies    

Strategies that limit access to alcohol by youth

are some of the most powerful and well-documented approaches to

reducing underage drinking and related problems. Examples:

  • Enforcement of minimum purchase age laws, including the vigorous

    use of compliance checks.

  • Strategies aimed at reducing the social availability to alcohol,

    including key registration laws.

  • Improvement of laws related to minimum purchase age, including

    improving the laws regarding minors in possession of alcohol.

  • Controls on availability in general, such as increasing the

    price of alcoholic beverages through excise taxes.


Strategies designed to express a community norm against underage

use are less well supported by specific evaluations but are thought

to be powerful approaches, especially as adjuncts to other efforts.


  • Prohibitions or controls on alcohol use at community events

    or in public areas

  • Prohibition of alcohol sponsorship of public events (e.g.,

    a beer company sponsoring a boat race)

  • Media campaigns, media advocacy, and counteradvertising


prevention strategies usually applied in schools have been shown

to have some effect on underage drinking. Examples:

  • School policies regarding alcohol on

    school property or at school sponsored-events (These policies

    are especially important in high schools, but are even more important

    in colleges and universities.)

  • Media literacy programs to make youth

    more sophisticated about the manipulative techniques of advertisers


One of the most serious and immediate consequences of underage

drinking is traffic crashes that result from impaired driving. Young

drivers, who are less experienced and less mature, are especially

vulnerable to the effects of even low levels of alcohol. The combination

of drinking and driving for this group is too often fatal. Fortunately,

there are a number of highly effective strategies to reduce impaired

driving. While these strategies have not been shown to affect drinking

per se, they are extremely important (and effective) in reducing

the negative consequences of underage drinking. Examples:

  • Establishment and enforcement of “zero tolerance”

    laws for drivers under 21

  • Sobriety checkpoints for impaired drivers
  • Vigorous and well-publicized enforcement of impaired driving





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