The SHAHRP research is world first research assessing the impact of alcohol harm reduction program in secondary school rather than the most widely used goal in alcohol education of abstinence. The first phase results (from baseline to final follow-up 32 months later) demonstrated that students who participated in SHAHRP lessons (rather than regular alcohol lessons) had 10% greater alcohol related knowledge, consumed 20% less alcohol, were 19.5% less likely to drink to harmful or hazardous levels, experienced 33% less harm associated with their own use of alcohol and 10% less harm associated with other people's use of alcohol than did the control group. The SHAHRP study demonstrated the efficacy of harm reduction alcohol education among secondary school students with equal or greater behavioural results than that achieved by abstinence based approaches. In addition, SHAHRP was successful in reducing alcohol related harm, an outcome often left unmeasured. Given the success of the SHAHRP program there has been a high level of international and national interest from researchers, policy makers and practitioners. The SHAHRP study website provides an overview of the study design, evidence-based features and results, as well as links to additional SHAHRP activity. Free copies of the program resources can be downloaded from the website. There have been many requests for copyright, program advice, and research advice to replicate the program and the research in Australia and other countries. This activity in ongoing.
The success of the SHAHRP program in impacting on alcohol related behaviours is an important achievement as over 70% (73.6%) of young people consume alcohol, and up to 55.6% of this group consume to adult defined levels of hazardous or harmful consumption and are at risk of both short and long term alcohol-related harm (Australian Institute for Health and Welfare: 2005). In Australia, the age of first alcohol use remains stable and the prevalence of use is increasing (Higgins et al: 2000; AIHW: 2005; Degenhardt, Lynskey & Hall: 2000). This has resulted in a higher number of years of potential life, quality of life and productivity lost from acute alcohol related events experienced by young people than those lost to chronic diseases associated with alcohol use in older consumers generally (World Health Organization: 1999; Chikritzhs et al: 2001). In addition, alcohol is linked to the three leading causes of death among young people worldwide: unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide (Chassin and DeLucia: 1996; Zubrick et al: 2000; Hillman et al: 2000).