alan MarlattDr. Alan MarlattIn the 1960’s Dr. Alan Marlatt (who passed away in 2011) discovered that students in a bar setting showed all the effects of drinking alcohol when served non-alcohol beer. Based on his work, universities across the world established “Bar Laboratories” to document precisely how the placebo effect causes most of the good beliefs associated with drinking. The majority of students who went through a bar lab experience, ended up drinking significantly less. And follow-up studies found these students continued drinking at reduced levels up to 10 years later, even though they received no booster sessions or other alcohol prevention interventions.

To date, nearly 1,000 studies and theoretical analyses have been published in peer-reviewed journals in the field of “Alcohol Expectancy Theory.” To learn more about alcohol expectancy theory, please take our free on-line course and earn 2 CUEs:

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In the early 1990’s, researchers at the University of Central Florida, led by Dr. Michael Dunn, began exploring if the same reductions in drinking that occurred with students who participated in a bar lab experience, could be produced during a class room lesson about alcohol expectancies. In 1993 they released the first study showing that elementary school children’s beliefs, about the effects of drinking, could be shifted towards the negative by a brief lesson. The lesson compares what advertisers teach are the effects of drinking, versus what the real effects of drinking alcohol are, and allows the students to see that the true physical effects of alcohol are not so desirable.

early PeterDFirst promotional photo for Peter DeBenedittis when he started the website to support Peter D. & Co., Inc.Dr. Peter DeBenedittis launched a media literacy education firm specializing in substance abuse prevention in 1999. Peter moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1995, after living on the island of Guam for over a decade. With the move, Dr. D. changed careers. Having previously run an ad agency that specialized in political candidates, Peter shifted to working for the esteemed New Mexico Media Literacy Project. “I slept a lot better at night now that I started using my background in media to educate for prevention rather than seduce for profits.” While with the NMMLP, Peter co-authored 2 CD Rom volumes of curricula—one teaching general media literacy education, and one specific to using media literacy for tobacco and alcohol prevention.

With the start of Peter D. & Co., Inc., Peter launched several new media literacy curricula series teaching prevention. Over the next 5 years he wrote 11 volumes of youth prevention lessons and spoke to over a quarter million students. His curricula became widely used across America, being required across several grade levels in Montana, and being adopted by state health departments in a half dozen states. Dr. D’s work training prevention specialists how to use media literacy in their prevention efforts, contributed to media literacy education becoming a foundational program. It’s now incorporated into most community and school prevention programs.

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