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More about behaviour | Changing Ways | Increase impact with behavioural knowledge

More about behaviour 

  • Writer's pictureJulie de Vaan

Youth alcohol abuse and substance use prevention (GGD)

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

The GGD (the public health service) wants to make people aware of the dangers of alcohol, smoking and drugs, and wants to reduce and prevent substance use and abuse, specifically among minors. In addition to a long-running national campaign, we help GGDs to locally increase their impact in the field of alcohol prevention and substance use.

Offering help and support

We investigate why people do or do not accept the use of substances under the age of 18. It turns out that this mostly has to do with:

  • Attitude towards substance use

  • Social influence

  • A sense of (un)fairness

  • A sense of control

Based on these insights, we have developed a board game. During the game, players talk about attitude, social influence, (un)fairness and control. Why is substance use harmful to young people, and how do other players look at substance use among youngsters? Why does substance use have such an impact on our social position, and how can we counteract peer pressure and negative social influence? And how can you effectively set rules and boundaries about substance use?

At the end of the game, people indicate that they find the game fun, educational and useful and are more motivated to apply the 'no drinking under 18' rule. Therefore, the game can be effectively used for, for example, schools, associations, or people who would like to start a conversation with others in their own social environment.

Reaching parents

Our research shows that in specific regions, it is especially difficult for the GGD to reach parents with information about substance use among youth and NIX18 in the right way. This is partly due to the fear of being judged, the need for independence, and a skeptical attitude towards people and agencies that provide help.

Based on this, we have developed interventions that allow the GGD to better reach parents with information about substance use and alcohol prevention, including:

  • Handing out jars with questions about substance use at schools. Using the questions from the jar, parents can start a conversation with their child about substance use and underaged drinking in a fun way, in a safe environment, and at their own pace.

  • A school assignment in which young people have to interview their parents about upbringing and substance use. In this way we encourage them to discuss this topic with their parents, and teach them to ask critical questions about it.

  • A parents' evening at schools, where parents are divided into groups based on their parenting style and, under the guidance of local experts, discuss what they find difficult in their upbringing.

In particular, the school assignment proved to be very effective in reaching out to parents, raising awareness about substance use, and encouraging people to apply the 'no drinking under 18' rule.


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