Researchers find that a web-based self-help intervention program can help problem drinkers give up alcohol, in the privacy of their own homes.
An international team of researchers has developed a 24/7 free-access, anonymous, interactive, and Web-based self-help intervention called Drinking Less (DL).
The findings revealed that DL could help problem drinkers in the privacy of their own homes.
"We were concerned that so few problem drinkers access the help they need," said Heleen Riper, a senior scientist at the Trimbos Institute and the Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands, as well as corresponding author for the study.
"This may not come as a surprise, given that addiction services predominantly focus on severely dependent people," Riper added.
"Web-based interventions can provide a cheap and easily accessible intervention for the large majority of problem drinkers who are not treated," noted Reinout W. Wiers, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Amsterdam.
DL consists of motivational, cognitive-behavioral, and self-control information and exercises.
It helps problem drinkers decide if they really want to change their problem drinking and, if so, helps them set realistic goals for achieving a change in their drinking behavior, providing tools and exercises to maintain these changes, or deal with relapse if it occurs.
In the study involving 378 people including 199 females, 179 males, the researchers found that effectiveness of DL in a randomized, controlled trial setting was maintained.
It showed that after six months, participants decreased their mean weekly alcohol consumption, and 18.8 percent changed their drinking patterns to 'low risk drinking.'
"For 84 percent of the participants, this was their first professional contact for problem drinking. Furthermore, more than half was female, indicating that this form of help is highly acceptable for female problem drinkers," said Riper.
"While Web-based and digital interventions might not be effective for everyone, almost 20 percent of our participants were able to change their problem drinking to low-risk, while others became aware of their problems and were more willing to seek professional guidance," Riper added.
The results were published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.