Although the small upstate New York cities that line the Hudson River were late to the party, so to speak, crack cocaine use had reached epidemic proportions by the late 1990s. Add in the increasing heroin use and the chronic alcohol and marijuana issues that the communities faced and it was not all that surprising that I found my first job after grad school in just such a city, working as a therapist in an outpatient rehab facility.
Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is only the latest version of a centuries-old expression regarding “wine, women and song.” Teens have been using substances, including alcohol, since ancient times, with their elders hard-pressed to stop them for equally as long. Devising consequences and doling out punishments is one time-honored approach, but finding ways to address some of the reasons teens drink and preventing teenage alcohol consumption is a potentially more effective and positive approach. Two British researchers published the results of just such an effort—a group intervention for teens based on positive psychology concepts and aimed at helping eliminate some of the reasons teens engage in drinking—especially in dangerous binge drinking. While the study was only a pilot and intentionally small in scale, the results are great news for those of us who work with and love our teens.