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Can repeat drink-driving offenders be swayed by just 30 minutes with a therapist, and would those minutes best be spent in motivational interviewing or providing information on alcohol? This Canadian study hints that 'Yes' is the answer to both questions – but only hints.
In three years from 2008 Scottish national policy drove delivery of nearly 175,000 brief alcohol interventions, testament to what can be done when policy is backed by funding and infrastructure and incentive payments contingent on implementation. Leverage and acceptance were greatest in primary care, where the vast majority of the work took place.
Though drinking problems were widespread, Scottish probation and community service staff were unconvinced of the appropriateness of screening their offender clients for risky drinking and (if indicated) offering brief advice. Not a priority, was the common feeling.
STUDY 2012 HTM file
Screening for alcohol use in criminal justice settings: an exploratory study
At English prisons, police stations and probation offices, offenders and arrestees in this study usually scored as at least hazardous drinkers and over half as problematic on a drink problem survey; nearly all would have been identified by a much briefer screening method usually requiring just a single question.
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.
STUDY 2012 HTM file
Alcohol screening and brief intervention in primary health care
The primary health arm of the largest alcohol screening and brief intervention study yet conducted in Britain found that the proportion of risky drinkers fell just as much after the most minimal of screening and intervention methods as after more sophisticated and longer (but still brief) alternatives.
STUDY 2012 HTM file
Alcohol screening and brief intervention in probation
The probation arm of the largest alcohol screening and brief intervention study yet conducted in Britain found that the proportion of offenders drinking at risky levels fell just as much after the most minimal of screening and intervention methods as after more sophisticated and longer (but still brief) alternatives.
UK government-funded pilot schemes found no crime reduction benefits from brief alcohol counselling for arrestees under the influence of drink, disappointing hopes that arrest referral would help quell late-night alcohol-related disorder. The schemes did however uncover many dependent drinkers.
From national and local guidance, commissioners and services, a rounded picture of how much Britain knows about and responds to the needs of the relatives of problem drug users. Increasing recognition of needs has generally yet to be matched by systematic needs assessments or service provision.
Hospital nurses in Sydney in Australia were trained to implement a new screening and intervention policy aiming to upgrade the identification of hazardous drinkers and other substance users among medical and surgical inpatients. Disappointing results highlight the need to do more than inform and exhort if practice is to change.
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