Quick Alcohol Counseling Can Work

Alcohol abuse and misuse was reduced by brief counseling sessions

(RxWiki News) There are a lot of alcohol-related dangers involved with alcohol misuse. People don’t have to be addicted or dependent on alcohol before getting some help.

A recent study looked at the potential for short behavioral counseling sessions to help people with risky drinking behavior. Results found counseling sessions sparked a reduction in drinks per week and binge drinking.

"Talk to a therapist if you misuse alcohol."

Daniel E. Jonas, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, led the investigation.

For the study, researchers looked at databases from 1985 to 2012 to select controlled trials of behavioral counseling for risky drinking behavior.

Participants were identified in a primary care setting as practicing some level of alcohol misuse, but not having alcohol dependence.

Once identified, participants were asked to attend short 10-15 minute behavioral counseling sessions to address their alcohol misuse for at least 6 months.

A total of 23 studies from the database fit the criteria.

In 10 of the studies, which included 4,332 participants, alcohol consumption was reduced by an average of 3.6 drinks per week after counseling.

In seven of the studies, with a total of 2,737 participants, 12 percent of the group cut out heavy drinking binges after counseling.

In nine of the studies, including 11 percent of the 5,973 participants reported drinking less than the limits set by recommendation.

All of these results were totaled after 12 months of brief counseling sessions compared to the start of the programs.

Authors noted that these results were also found in college kids.

As alcohol misuse contributes to accidental deaths, injuries and alcohol-related health problems, it has been ranked the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

Authors said, “Behavioral counseling interventions improve behavioral outcomes for adults with risky drinking.”

Brief behavioral counseling sessions could be a cost-effective way to help lower risky drinking behavior and improve health and safety in the U.S. population.

This study was published in September in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Funding was provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, no conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
September 26, 2012