With the exception of cardiovascular diseases, no other medical condition causes more serious dysfunction or premature deaths than alcohol-related problems. Research results indicate that alcohol dependent individuals present an exceptionally poor level of quality of life. This is an outcome that highlights the necessity of planning and implementing preventive interventions on biological, psychological or social level, to be provided to individuals who make alcohol abuse, as well as to their families. Preventive interventions can be considered on three levels of prevention: (a) primary prevention, which is focused on the protection of healthy individuals from alcohol abuse and dependence, and may be provided on a universal, selective or indicated level, (b) secondary prevention, which aims at the prevention of deterioration regarding alcoholic dependence and relapse, in the cases of individuals already diagnosed with the condition and (c) tertiary prevention, which is focused at minimizing deterioration of functioning in chronically sufferers from alcoholic dependence. The term “quaternary prevention” can be used for the prevention of relapse. As for primary prevention, interventions focus on assessing the risk of falling into problematic use, enhancing protective factors and providing information and health education in general. These interventions can be delivered in schools or in places of work and recreation for young people. In this context, various programs have been applied in different countries, including Greece with positive results (Preventure, Alcolocks, LST, SFP, Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device). Secondary prevention includes counseling and structured help with the delivery of programs in schools and in high risk groups for alcohol dependence (SAP, LST). These programs aim at the development of alcohol refusal skills and behaviors, the adoption of models of behaviors resisting alcohol use, as well as reinforcement of general social skills. In the context of relevant interventions, various techniques are used, such as role playing. At the level of social policy, different measures may contribute to increase the effectiveness of preventive programs (e.g. prohibition of sale of alcohol in young people). Interventions of tertiary prevention aim at the development of motivation for abstinence in alcohol dependent individuals and the prevention of relapse, as well as the acquisition of new behaviors, which support modification of the problem of alcohol dependence. These interventions can take place in the context of psychotherapeutic follow-up provided to alcohol dependent individuals, and may include various short-term interventions, such as motivational interviewing, but also alternative forms of treatment (e.g. acupuncture, meditation). Elements of prevention in combination with elements of promotion of mental health may be incorporated in the same programme for alcohol dependence, endorsing similar or different activities, which may be complementary and may reinforce the effectiveness of the prevention program. Finally, it is necessary to raise the awareness of mental health professionals regarding prevention and provide specialized education to those who work in drug addiction programmes. Mental health professionals may act as therapists and as intervention coordinators, and performing these roles, they may contribute to the effectiveness of preventive programs and more generally to the treatment of disorders connected with alcohol use.

Key words: Primary prevention, secondary prevention, tertiary prevention, mental health promotion, alcohol dependence.

A.C. Trova, Th. Paparrigopoulos, I. Liappas, M. Ginieri-Coccossis(page 131) - Full article (Greek)