Counseling Has Limited Benefit on Young Alcoholics

by Sudha Bhat on  August 29, 2014 at 11:04 AM Health Watch   - G J E 4
More and more teenagers and young individuals are now resorting to alcohol possibly as an option to relieve the immense pressure to succeed. If not corrected right in the beginning, the window of opportunity to influence their behavior could be narrowed, if not lost altogether, according to some educators and substance-abuse specialists. Parents need to talk directly to their children about alcohol and the consequences of using it.
 Counseling Has Limited Benefit on Young Alcoholics
Counseling Has Limited Benefit on Young Alcoholics

It has been found that teenage drinking is on the rise and this doesn't just involve troubled youngsters. It has been estimated that globally every year, around 320,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 29 die due to alcohol misuse. Most of these deaths are reportedly caused due to car accidents, murders, suicides or drowning.

In the 1980s, a counseling technique called 'motivational interviewing' was widely used to help people with alcohol problems to try and overcome their ambivalence and change their behavior. The counsellors would first listen, then adopt a non-judgmental, non-confrontational stance, highlight the negative consequences of drinking, thus motivating the person with drinking problem towards a positive change.

However, a recent study show that these counseling techniques may be of limited benefit. The results of this study was published in The Cochrane Library in which it was shown that by and large, motivational interviewing did not reduce drinking or alter alcohol-related behavior in young individuals.

The researchers studied the results of 66 trials involving a total of 17,901 young people aged 25 and under. Young people who were at high risk of alcohol-related problems participated in these studies.

In 49 trials, the study participants attended one individual session whereas in the other trials, they attended group sessions or a mixture of group and individual sessions. The participants included university and college students, army recruits, prisoners and young people attending healthcare centers, youth centers and job centers.

It was found that at the end of four months, the amount and frequency of drinking for participants who underwent counselling had only slightly reduced as compared with people who did not have counselling sessions.

Participants who had counseling sessions had about 1 and a half fewer drinks per week compared to those who had no counselling sessions. The number of drinking days was almost the same in both groups: 2.57 days per week compared to 2.74 in untreated people. It was also seen that participants reduced their maximum blood alcohol levels just marginally from 0.144% to 0.129%, but their average blood alcohol levels remained the same.

Thus it was concluded that motivational interviewing had no effect on alcohol-related problems, binge drinking, drunk-driving and other risky behaviors related to the use of alcohol in young individuals.

David Foxcroft, a faculty member of Health and Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, UK and one of the lead researchers said "The results suggest that for young people who misuse alcohol there is no substantial, meaningful benefit of motivational interviewing. The effects we saw were probably too small to be of relevance to policy or practice."

He further added "There may be certain groups of young adults for whom motivational interviewing is more successful in preventing alcohol-related problems, but we need to see larger trials in these groups to be able to make any firm conclusions."

"Responsible drinking" - that's an oxymoron. So think before you drink, especially if you are young, for more often than not, it ends you up in a disaster!!

Source: Medindia

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