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Counselling has almost `no effect` young alcohol abusers

Last Updated: Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 21:00

Washington: A new study has revealed that counselling techniques used to help young people with drinking problems may be of limited benefit.

According to the researchers, an approach known as motivational interviewing did not substantially reduce drinking or alter alcohol-related behaviour.

The researchers reviewed evidence from 66 trials involving a total of 17,901 young people aged 25 and under. Many of the studies recruited young people who were at high risk of alcohol related problems.

In 49 trials, those involved attended one individual session. In the others, they attended group sessions or a mixture of group and individual sessions. Four months later, participants who underwent counselling had only slightly reduced the amount they drank and how often they drank compared with people who were untreated. On average participants who had counselling had about 1 and a half fewer drinks per week compared to those who had no counselling (12.2 drinks compared with 13.7).

The effect of counselling on the number of drinking days was also very small: 2.57 days per week compared to 2.74 in untreated people). Participants also slightly reduced their maximum blood alcohol levels from 0.144 percent to 0.129 percent, but their average blood alcohol levels did not change. Motivational interviewing had no effect on alcohol-related problems, binge drinking, drink-driving and other risky behaviours related to alcohol.

Lead researcher David Foxcroft said that the results suggest that for young people who misuse alcohol there is no substantial, meaningful benefit of motivational interviewing and the effects we saw were probably too small to be of relevance to policy or practice.

First Published: Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 20:59
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