November 28, 2016
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Telephone intervention effective for alcohol use disorder in military members

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Motivational interviewing with feedback delivered over the telephone reduced drinking and alcohol dependence and increased substance use treatment rates among active-duty military with untreated alcohol use disorders.

“If you’re in the military and you seek substance abuse treatment, your commanding officer is notified and it goes on your medical record and your military record. That’s a huge barrier,” study researcher Denise Walker, PhD, of the University of Washington, Seattle, said in a press release.

To assess efficacy of a telephone-delivered motivational interviewing plus feedback intervention for reduction of alcohol consumption and increased utilization of substance use treatment, researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial of 242 Army personnel who met DSM-IV criteria for alcohol use disorder. Study participants were randomly assigned to receive one session of motivational interviewing plus feedback or psychoeducation, both delivered over the telephone. Assessment occurred at baseline, 1 week, 3 months and 6 months.

Drinking significantly decreased among all study participants over time.

Participants who received motivational interviewing plus feedback reported significantly fewer drinks per week, compared with controls.

At 6 months, fewer participants who received motivational interviewing plus feedback met criteria for alcohol dependence, compared with controls.

By 6-month follow-up, approximately one-third of all study participants sought substance use disorder treatment in some way.

“People who get into army substance abuse programs are often mandated to go or have gotten into trouble. That leaves out a huge proportion of the population who are struggling and not doing well,” Walker said in the release. “This intervention has the potential to be used for soldiers and military personnel worldwide. It would really help fill the gap in service provision that is currently available to soldiers.”

Disclosure: Please see the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.