Adolescents worldwide are known to use both legal and illegal substances to different degrees, which can lead to other problems. Brief interventions are short programmes that aim to help reduce or stop substance use, in this case among adolescents. We conducted a Cochrane systematic review to look at the effectiveness of school-based brief interventions for substance use and substance-related problem behaviours among adolescents. The studies compared brief intervention programmes with two major kinds of comparison or control groups, (1) an information provision group and (2) an assessment-only group where participants received no intervention. Results of the review were mixed as we found studies that showed that brief intervention had no effects on substance use as well as studies where the brief intervention significantly reduced substance use and other problem behaviours. The pattern of results indicated that participants who received a brief intervention generally did better in reducing their substance use than participants who received no intervention at all. However, participants who received a brief intervention did no better in reducing their substance use than participants who received information only interventions. Across these intervention programmes, the evidence of benefit we found for a general reduction in substance use (especially cannabis, and less so for alcohol) was of limited quality. In view of the risk of bias, variation in study findings and imprecision, we are unable to make definitive statements about the effectiveness of these interventions.
Carney, T.; Myers, B.J.; Louw, J.; Okwundu, C.I. Brief school-based interventions and behavioural outcomes for substance-using adolescents. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2014) (Issue 2) Art. No.: CD008969. [DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008969.pub2]