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Using the internet's power and anonymity to reduce problem drinking

Computers, and the internet, have become an integral part of North American life, whether located at home, school or the workplace. At least 80 percent of internet "surfers" in the United States have reportedly used the internet to access health information. Symposium proceedings published in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research describe several alcohol interventions based on in-person brief motivational interventions (BMIs) that are currently offered via the internet.

"BMIs use elements that are common to effective brief interventions," said Scott Walters, symposium organizer and assistant professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Texas School of Public Health. "A number of studies show that people tend to respond best to certain kinds of interventions, those that provide feedback, are empathic and nonjudgmental, emphasize personal responsibility, and give people several options for how they would like to go about changing their drinking. Interventions that have these elements are more likely to reduce drinking. Effective computer interventions basically pull from these common elements. In fact, many drinkers seem to prefer this format. It's a way to save face, and drinkers can begin to look at their drinking in a private and nonjudgmental way."

Symposium presenters at the June 2004 Research Society on Alcoholism meeting in Vancouver, B.C. spoke about the following programs:

  • The Drinker's Check-up (DCU) is a computer program model based on the original face-to-face DCU. Outcomes of a study using the computer-based DCU compared favorably to earlier studies of the DCU delivered face-to-face.

    "The DCU program is the internet equivalent of two to three face-to-face sessions with a counselor," said Reid Hester, director of the Research Division at Behavior Therapy Associates in Albuquerque, NM. "It contains the same elements of the original DCU: a comprehensive assessment o
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  • 14-Feb-2005


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