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Psychol Addict Behav. 2009 Dec;23(4):577-85. doi: 10.1037/a0016580.

Drink less or drink slower: the effects of instruction on alcohol consumption and drinking control strategy use.

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  • 1Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13244, USA.


Brief alcohol interventions often involve recommendations to use drinking control strategies. However, little is known about the functional effect of these strategies on alcohol use. This prospective study employed an experimental design to evaluate the relationship between strategy use and alcohol consumption. The differential effects of instructions to increase the use of strategies or to reduce alcohol consumption were compared to self-monitoring (SM) only. Undergraduate drinkers were randomized into 3 conditions: SM plus strategy increase (SI; n = 61), SM plus alcohol reduction (AR; n = 60), and SM control (SM; n = 56). Participants in the AR group reduced their alcohol use over 2 weeks, while those in the SI group did not drink less. Participants in the SI group increased strategy use over time, whereas the AR group increased use of some strategies but not others. These results indicate that increasing use of drinking control strategies does not necessarily result in reduced drinking. Furthermore, all strategies are not equal in their association with alcohol consumption; if the goal is alcohol reduction, type of strategy recommended may be important.

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