Brief intervention is a popular and common alcohol reduction intervention that aims to moderate alcohol consumption and reduce harmful drinking practices such as binge drinking. Research has shown that brief interventions are highly effective across all spectrum’s of alcohol dependency.
Unlike other forms of treatment, this type of therapy is better suited to individuals who drink in ways that can be considered abusive or harmful than those with a dependency. Brief intervention treatment can be implemented by a range of therapists or medical professionals. It has also been effectively used in peer-based treatments at schools or universities. It can be performed in clinics, rehabilitation centers, community health centers or campus clinics and there is no specified time limit for it to be effective.
Brief intervention treatment is characterized by a combination of short counseling sessions (5 to 60 minutes) and education. The program can be implemented at any time of treatment, but it is recommended to be used during early stages. They can be performed by health workers, medical professionals, group counselors and other appropriate individuals. This type of treatment has been extensively used throughout the world and is considered an excellent tool for all individuals who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. It should be noted, however, that the treatment is not designed to be used for severe alcohol dependency where other treatments are more appropriate.
The use of short sessions of counseling and education that support an individual in their own time and own community is part of the reason that brief intervention therapy is so successful. It is low cost and has minimal disruption to a person’s home and work life, thus reducing some of the potential shame that some patients feel when getting treatment. It also aims to provide those seeking help with immediate results, helping them to realize small steps can make a difference.
Brief intervention therapy does not recommend abstinence for all patients, but rather encourages individuals to take steps to reduce harmful drinking. This can include abstinence if it is considered appropriate, for example, with pregnant women. It is also effective at reducing the amount of binge drinking that younger individuals are often involved in. Educating those who participate in this type of drinking is important as it can curb risky behaviors early on.
Brief intervention therapy is particularly effective for people who engage in binge drinking. Binge drinking can be defined as excessive consumption of alcohol in a short period of time with the aim to get drunk. Binge drinking is associated with a profound social harm, economic costs as well as increased disease burden. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 75 per cent of alcohol consumed in the United States is in the form of binge drinking. This type of alcohol consumption is particularly common with young adults, especially young men, but increasingly young women.
Early intervention in school or university settings have been found to moderate the levels of this type of harmful drinking. Brief interventions can be successfully implemented into campus health centers, student centers or local medical centers. Young people are often not aware of the serious health implications that binge drinking can have which includes car accidents and an increase risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Educating individuals about these risks can have vastly beneficial outcomes both financially and physically.
It has been reported that around 20 per cent of women drink some alcohol during pregnancy. However, severe alcohol dependency during pregnancy is uncommon. Even mild to moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy can have negative health implications for both the pregnant woman and child. Alcohol consumption during key development stages can have long term implications for the child, including learning and behavioral problems. Brief interventions have been recommended as an effective treatment to encourage women to abstain from consuming alcohol while pregnant. Treatment can be implemented early on as the majority of women seek medical guidance within a short time of getting pregnant.
Screening is considered an effective method of diagnosing people who require brief intervention. World wide, there are numerous guidelines for health professionals to use when screening; however, it has been reported that only 13 per cent of medical professionals use screening to discuss alcohol use with their patients. Screening provides an opportunity to educate about the risks of alcohol consumption, especially excessive and high risk consumption. Information about the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption can help to diagnose health issues if a patient is suffering from alcohol poisoning or it has affected other medications. This is then the situation for brief intervention treatment or referral and education which are proven effective preventative measures.
Brief interventions are proven procedures that work best when used with moderate risk drinking behaviors. Education for young adults and low level drinkers is imperative for reducing the potential risks that high levels and excessive drinking can have. It is suggested that intervention at this stage can reduce the potential for excessive drinking behaviors into the future. Although abstinence is an important and relevant outcome for some drinkers, it is not the aim of this type of therapy that is for mild-risk alcohol consumers.
Used on the right patients, and under the right conditions with screening, brief interventions can encourage moderate drinking and peer-based intervention therapy. The therapy also arms patients with tools to realize their own levels of harm and to moderate their behavior as appropriate.