March 26 | By CAAH Team
One of the effective ways to overcome the problem of alcoholism— excessive alcohol consumption is linked to increased morbidity and mortality— is brief interventions. Compared to the standard alcohol addiction treatments, brief interventions are short one-to-one counseling sessions that target people with the harmful or dangerous pattern of drinking. Unlike the traditional treatment that can last long (weeks or months), brief interventions take considerably less time and effort. Usually, they last for few minutes. Moreover, they require the basic follow-up. As a result, patients can buy more time for doing other things in life and still remain sober.
As per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), around 88,000 people (including about 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually. Such a large number of casualties has made alcohol the third major preventive cause of death in the United States. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of witnessing adverse effects like cancer or hemorrhage. The purpose of these interventions is to save the lives of innocent people addicted to alcohol by moderating their alcohol consumption and steadily decreasing it to a sensible level.
Brief interventions are known to be clinically effective and cost-effective for identifying alcohol-related problems in the primary care population. In primary care settings, patients suffering from chronic illnesses often return for a follow-up appointment and develop long-term relationships with their doctors. These intervention programs may include an introspective discussion with a trained physician, doctor, social worker, etc. and motivational interviewing where one discusses the adversities of alcohol consumption.
Generally, these interventions include sessions as long as 5 to 15 minutes with doctors and 20 to 30 minutes with nurses. Moreover, the sessions may vary accordingly, oscillating from one to five sessions per week. The target of brief interventions is to identify the problems at an early stage. Additionally, they develop positive changes in the patient behavior by replacing unhealthy practices.
A recent study, conducted by Eileen Kaner and other researchers, found that brief interventions can reduce alcohol consumption compared to minimal or no intervention. It also highlighted the effectiveness of brief interventions in reducing drinking-related problems in general practice and emergency care settings. The researchers included around 69 studies that randomized about 33,642 participants. A further analysis suggested that both women and men displayed a marked reduction in alcohol consumption after receiving a brief intervention.
Along the same lines, another study conducted by Amy O’ Donnell and other researchers found brief interventions effective across different settings and population groups. Compared to other populations, brief interventions were more effective in the case of middle-aged males indulging in heavy drinking.
Excessive drinking is responsible for causing both physical and psychological harms. The entire procedure of early identification and prevention of alcohol-related health problems using brief interventions in primary care population is being looked as a promising solution to alcoholism. Therefore, in order to cut down excessive drinking in the common populace, the need of the hour is to implement brief interventions in primary and emergency care settings.
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