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Quick and Easy Online Intervention Helps Problem Drinkers Cut-Down by 30%

posted 01:09 AM EST, Wed January 06, 2010
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Quick and Easy Online Intervention Helps Problem Drinkers Cut-Down by 30% © Photo Credit: Kicki

Canadian health researchers say that heavy drinkers given access to an online intervention tool reduced their alcohol consumption by 30% - and that this reduction proved lasting beyond 6 months.

Researchers at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) say that heavy drinkers given access to an alcohol intervention website reduced their drinking by 30% (6 to 7 drinks per week, on average) and this reduction endured beyond follow-up checks at 3 and 6 months.

These results are very similar to what is typically achieved in face-to-face alcohol intervention programs; which demonstrates the great promise of much cheaper to run and more accessible online interventions.

The website, called ‘CheckYourDrinking.net’ offered non judgmental information about the consequences of individual levels of alcohol consumption – offering each participating heavy drinker with information about:

  • How their drinking compared to the national average
  • How much money each was spending on alcohol
  • How much time each spent annually under the influence
  • What health risks were associated with each person’s level of alcohol consumption

This information helps problem drinkers better understand the consequences of their level of consumption and generally increases motivation to reduce drinking.

Dr. John Cunningham at CAMH said that while getting help for a drinking problem in-person may be ideal, that a substantial number of people can’t, or won’t, get the help they need. He lists barriers like a fear of stigma, a lack of local treatment or a desire to manage the problem alone as reasons why so many heavy drinkers never get in-person help and says, “online interventions can help reduce these barriers by allowing people to seek help in their own homes."

The full results of the CAMH research study are available in the journal Addiction.

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