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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2005 Oct 1;80(1):91-103.

Motivationally enhanced group counseling for substance users in a soup kitchen: a randomized clinical trial.

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National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., 71 West 23rd Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10010, USA.


Soup kitchens tend to serve residentially unstable adults characterized by a high prevalence of substance abuse. In this study, 289 soup kitchen guests who reported drug or alcohol problems were randomly assigned to information and referral (I&R) plus peer advocacy (peers encouraging subjects to participate in other services) (N = 139) or to an experimental 12-session motivational group (three sessions per week for 4 weeks) followed by a 36-session cognitive-behavioral group (three sessions per week for 12 weeks), plus I&R and peer advocacy. Mean age was 42; 82% male; 68% African-American; 81% unstable residence; 14% HIV+. Experimentals were significantly more likely than the controls to have increased their participation in some type of substance abuse intervention during the follow-up period. In addition, experimentals were significantly more likely than controls to have reduced both drinking and heavy drinking at follow-up (there was no difference between groups in reduction of cocaine use). Interaction analysis indicated that the experimental intervention was more effective for participants with higher rather than lower substance abuse severity at baseline. These results support the concept that motivationally enhanced group counseling, provided as a low-threshold outreach intervention, can help to increase participation in formal treatment and 12-step groups and to reduce substance abuse, particularly for those starting with high severity of use.

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