Fewer arrests, auto accidents and ER visits among young adults counseled for high-risk drinking


Physicians who spent only a few focused minutes counseling young patients about reducing their alcohol use successfully reduced high-risk drinking among those patients as well as the number of motor vehicle crashes, arrests for substance or liquor violations and emergency room visits. The findings published in the September/October 2004 Annals of Family Medicine, support more widespread use of brief counseling interventions in primary care.

Analyzing the results from 226 young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 who participated in a randomized clinical trial testing the effectiveness of brief alcohol counseling, the authors found that counseling resulted in long-term reductions in high-risk drinking behaviors and adverse events.

Comparing results of those who received counseling with those who did not, the authors found that counseling resulted in a 40 to 50 percent decrease in alcohol use, 42 percent fewer emergency department visits (103 vs. 177), 55 percent fewer motor vehicle crashes (9 vs. 20), and 23 percent fewer total motor vehicle events (114 vs. 149). They also found significant differences in the number of arrests for controlled substance or liquor violations (0 vs. 8).

The authors suggest that these compelling findings point to the efficacy of brief counseling one of the most important therapeutic modalities used by physicians. With alcohol-related mortality still the most common cause of death in young adults, the authors recommend primary care providers make counseling for high-risk drinking in young adults a critical priority.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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