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Mini-Counseling Sessions Can Curb Problem Drinking

posted Sep 28, 2012, 10:36 AM by UWM Brain Lab

A new study shows short counseling sessions can curb problem drinking:

Brief counseling from primary care doctors reduces "risky" drinking, defined as having more than four drinks a day for men, three for women, a federal task force says.

About one in three Americans misuse alcohol, the panel says, with the vast majority falling in the "risky" category.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says the available evidence shows that patients who had multiple counseling sessions lasting 10 to 15 minutes were 12 percent more likely to quit binge drinking a year later and 11 percent more likely to stay within recommended alcohol limits.

Alcohol consumption went down from 23 drinks to 19 drinks a week after the counseling, according to the panel's analysis of 10 well-done studies.

The task force calls those "moderate" benefits – but enough to justify primary care doctors screening all adult patients for signs of problem drinking and providing counseling.

It doesn't specify how many counseling sessions are needed, but says it takes more than one. Likewise, the task force doesn't endorse a specific kind of alcohol counseling but says a number of methods are effective, including computer-based and telephone sessions, as well as face-to-face encounters.

Continue reading this article over at NPR.