The Alcohol Literacy Challenge™ (ALC)is an IOM Model “Universal” underage and binge drinking prevention program. It is the first classroom based alcohol prevention lesson that challenges students’ beliefs about the effects of drinking alcohol. It combines the latest media literacy approaches to alcohol marketing with bar laboratory research showing that most of the experience a person calls “being drunk” is a result of that person’s beliefs, not the chemical effects of alcohol.

Decades of bar laboratory research has found that people in a bar setting routinely get drunk by drinking non-alcoholic beverages if they believe they are drinking alcohol. They will exhibit all the mental and physical characteristics associated with drinking, without realizing that an estimated 90% of the positive affects they’re experiencing are their own mental creations.

ALC teaches students both the real, physical effects of consuming alcohol, and the placebo-caused social & emotional effects people associate with drinking. It uses media literacy techniques to demonstrate how alcohol marketing can produce strongly held positive beliefs about drinking. When students learn these concepts, both changes in their expectancies about alcohol and actual reductions in drinking occur. Changed alcohol expectancies are a key factor in predicting long-term alcohol usage patterns.

ALC upends traditional notions of what prevention is supposed to look like, because it requires little class time compared to other alcohol prevention lessons. Interventions lasting only one or two class periods will produce significant reductions in drinking and changes in beliefs about the effects of alcohol.

ALC is the first classroom-based prevention program that specifically and systematically challenges students’ beliefs about the effects of drinking alcohol. When the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices originally reviewed the ALC in 2012, their staff wrote:

Students find out that the most desired effects of drinking—the arousing, positive, and pro-social effects—are placebo effects rather than pharmacological ones. The ALC corrects the erroneous beliefs about alcohol use promoted by the media, and thereby decreases positive and increases negative alcohol expectancies. These shifts in expectancies have been shown to lower levels of alcohol use.

Over 1,000 studies have been published documenting the power of brief alcohol expectancies challenges to reduce underage and binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) predicted in 2002 that classroom based prevention lessons challenge students alcohol expectancies would soon emerge.

The ALC uses a PowerPoint platform rich with movies, animations & interactive exercises to present age appropriate lessons. The ALC is available for:

  • 5th & 6th Grade (50 minutes)
  • 7h & 8th Grade (90 minutes)
  • 9th - 12th Grade (90 minutes)
  • College (50 minutes)
  • Parents (60 minutes)

Lessons include student activity sheets, instructor talking points, & student pre & post test evaluations. And to better insure program fidelity, key concepts are presented in movies and animations that will engage students.

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We really like giving this presentation because: Number's fun.

Timothy Heywood, Outreach & Education Coordinator

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