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J Subst Abuse Treat. 1988;5(4):239-46.

Recognition of intoxication by alcohol counselors.

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  • 1Psychology Department, Bradley University, Peoria, IL 61625.


Recent studies have found that police officers, bartenders, social drinkers, and trained interviewers are often unable to recognize when others are intoxicated. The present two studies were conducted to evaluate: (a) the recognition ability of alcohol counselors compared to mental health counselors, and (b) the recognition ability of less-experienced versus more-experienced alcohol counselors. Subjects viewed four videotapes of a 21-year-old male engaged in simulated counseling interviews after he was given drinks containing alcohol to achieve one of four target Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) goals: .00%, .05%, .10%, .15%. Results indicated that alcohol counselors were not uniformly more accurate than mental health therapists, nor were more-experienced alcohol counselors uniformly more accurate than less-experienced alcohol counselors at recognizing intoxication or estimating BAL. In addition, subjects generally underestimated the target's sober-intoxicated status and BAL when he was given alcohol, but almost every subject recognized that the target was at least moderately intoxicated when his BAL was .15%.

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