A new report has been released by the International Centre for Alcohol Policies (ICAP). "Alcohol Education and Its Effectiveness" focuses on the importance of education in addressing alcohol problems.

The report, issued last week, demonstrates that targeted interventions based on realistic and defined goals, are effective in reducing the risk of harm, especially when conducted in partnership between the public and private sectors.

"Our report seeks answers to a central question - do education measures work?" said Marcus Grant, president of ICAP. "And the short answer is - yes, they can work, but some approaches show more promise than others."

The first lesson from the report is that targeted interventions for potentially "at-risk" populations, such as young people, pregnant women or native communities, more effectively raise awareness than broad programs aimed at the population as a whole.

The second message, especially valid for young people, is that these interventions are most successful when they involve families, peers and reach out to the broad community.

"Education needs to be relevant to people's lives," adds Dr. Grant. "You need to be able to relate to the advice you are given.  Attitudes, especially among young people, strongly influence whether education is effective."

Successful alcohol education combines formal approaches with informal influences, the institute said. It begins with defined and realistic goals that are targeted to a well-defined audience. Like any measure, education cannot stand on its own. Alcohol education is part of the larger picture along with legislation, enforcement and other policy and prevention efforts.            

The ICAP report is the sixteenth in a series published on alcohol and society. The study draws its conclusions based on a survey of a large and growing body of scientific literature.

Established in 1995 to promote global public/private partnership in the area of alcohol policy, ICAP is supported by 10 major international beverage companies.