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Studies published in the mid-2000s confirm that counselling based on motivational interviewing helps heavy drinking US college students control their drinking and reduce related problems.
Risky drinking was widespread among the disorder and assault suspects screened for alcohol problems and (as indicated) offered brief advice by civilian staff at a police station in north east England, but they constituted just a quarter of the arrestees intended to have been screened.
At a US university students at first cut back their drinking and cannabis use in response to a brief face-to-face fitness consultation, but the gains were no longer apparent a year after intervention. Yet still at that time they had at least experienced more positive trends in how they felt than students who had just read a fitness brochure.
STUDY 2010 HTM file
A brief image-based prevention intervention for adolescents
Across the sample, a brief face-to-face consultation highlighting how substance use might stop them becoming the sort of young adults they wanted to be generally did not prevent substance use among US high school pupils, but those already using substances were significantly more responsive, suggesting a selective if not a universal prevention role.
Dutch general practice patients at risk of cardiovascular disease did not further reduce their risks (including drinking and smoking) in response to motivational counselling from the practice nurse. Why did a well worked out, multi-session intervention fail to better usual care? The probable answer is among the common factors which transcend therapies.
Can college health clinics do widespread screening and brief alcohol advice? Yes they can, is one conclusion of this first large-scale test conducted at five North American universities. The other main conclusion – that by doing so they make worthwhile reductions in drinking and related harm – is weakened by the small size of the impacts.
2010 English national drug strategy: "A fundamental difference [from] those that have gone before is that instead of focusing primarily on reducing the harms caused by drug misuse, [we will] go much further and offer every support for people to choose recovery as an achievable way out of dependency."
Five years later a parent-and-child alcohol use prevention programme developed for poor black families with 11-year-old children in the USA’s rural south was found to have retarded the growth in average drinking frequency. Results were consistently positive, but methodological issues limit confidence in the findings.
In these UK national prevention guidelines, experts prioritised population-wide changes like price rises and outlet restrictions which affect everyone, independent of the choices they make. But in England government prefers to target what they see as the troublesome minority, not the responsible majority.
Synthesis of randomised trials finds worthwhile reductions in drinking after college students and others are simply very briefly informed how their drinking compares to population norms.
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