Alcohol is the most commonly used drug, and its abuse contributes to deaths, injuries, disease, crime, social disorder and family disintegration. PIRE scientists study how alcohol causes and exacerbates these problems and what policies and programs can prevent alcohol-related problems.

PIRE research has established scientific prevention approaches that focus on the alcohol environment, including availability, access, enforcement and promotion.

Major topics have included:

  • The patterns of diseases linked to alcohol consumption and possible ways of reducing alcohol-related morbidity.
  • The effects of alcohol on driving performance as well as other types of performance effects of alcohol.
  • Innovative ways of measuring the effects of alcohol and of interventions to reduce alcohol-related problems.

Advertising and Culture

Advertising and marketing of alcohol are pervasive in our culture. Research indicates that such promotions can influence attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol. For many years, PIRE has carried out research on the advertising and marketing of alcohol, especially how they affect children and young people.


Alcohol Control and Enforcement

Many of the most effective public health efforts involve the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies. Preventing underage drinking and drinking and driving are good examples of ways in which law enforcement can prevent death, injury and illness.


Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a particularly dangerous drinking pattern characterized by bouts of heavy consumption that can lead to injury, illness and even death.


Crime and Violence

Many empirical studies have found a strong positive correlation between alcohol consumption and many types of crime and violence. The most obvious criminal link is impaired driving, but alcohol consumption also is associated with interpersonal violence  and other crimes, including assaults, sexual assaults, intimate partner violence, and homicide.


Driving Impairment

In recent years, over 17,000 Americans die annually in alcohol-related traffic crashes and hundreds of thousands more suffer serious injuries. As bad as this is, it used to be worse. Decades of research and evidence-based prevention policies have helped reduce the human toll.


Health Effects

Extensive epidemiological research suggests that alcohol use and abuse can result in a variety of adverse health consequences.  PIRE experts have conducted extensive research on the relationship of  alcohol use and the incidence of adverse health effects, as well as the effects of various policies and interventions.



Prevention of alcohol problems can reduce deaths, injuries, disease and vast social and economic costs. PIRE has been a leader in research that illuminates the nature of alcohol use and problems as well as in research and program development to prevent alcohol problems. Research by PIRE demonstrates that the most effective prevention strategies are those that change the overall alcohol environment, especially through alcohol policies.



There are treatments for alcohol abuse and alcoholism that have been demonstrated effective in randomized studies.  In addition, there are data indicating that self-help groups such as AA may be beneficial to persons with alcohol abuse or dependence.  Some people, though, are able to stop problematic drinking without professional assistance.


Underage Drinking

The implementation of the 21 drinking age throughout the U.S. has been extremely successful in preventing impaired driving crashes and other alcohol-related harms among young people. But young people still drink and still suffer serious and sometimes tragic consequences. PIRE has been a leader in research, policy development, program development and evaluation in the area of youth alcohol use.



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