Alcohol Policy Research: Where do I find it?

Every year, we learn more about what works to reduce problems with alcohol. Research helps us focus our scarce resources on policies that are most likely to be effective. But, sometimes it’s hard to know where to look for the most credible research.

Let me suggest some excellent sources. Below is a picture of my dog-eared copy of a favorite: “Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity.”

It was authored by 15 of the world’s most renowned alcohol researchers. Of particular help is a chart on pp. 243- 248 which rates a large number of “policy-relevant strategies and interventions.” These policies are rated on “effectiveness, breadth of research support and cross national testing.” It’s a practical way to review your community’s policy’s to see what you have and what you might be lacking.

The World Health Organization’s website has a great deal of information concerning recommended strategies and how individual countries stack up on alcohol issues. I recommend downloading or reading the Global Status Report.

Chapter 4 has a detailed discussion of “Alcohol Policy and Interventions.” The publication also has profiles of most countries including the US.

In the US, there are many universities and institutes that are doing excellent work, but they are too numerous to list here. So, I will suggest that you become acquainted with two resources.

First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Prevention Services Task Force has a website for their policy recommendations. The task force is independent of the CDC. Their job is to review credible research about particular alcohol policies. Their recommendations are compiled in The Community Guide which “is a collection of evidence-based findings” of the Task Force. This task force looks at what has worked for others and how well, the costs and the evidence gaps. A second resource is the Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS) produced by NIAAA. It has a comprehensive list of policies and which states have those policies.

Other ideas are to check out some useful websites such as the Center for Alcohol Policy which has useful reports and papers, the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association which produces brief white papers and other information; and, there is my website www.healthyalcoholmarket.com where all my reports and newsletters are free to download. These resources are a good place to start in helping your community develop a robust set of policies that can be effective in combatting excessive alcohol consumption and misuse.

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