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Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2011 Aug 17;6:22. doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-6-22.

Alcohol-related brief intervention in patients treated for opiate or cocaine dependence: a randomized controlled study.

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Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.

Erratum in

  • Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2013;8:28.



Despite the importance of heavy drinking and alcohol dependence among patients with opiate and cocaine dependence, few studies have evaluated specific interventions within this group. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of screening with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and of brief intervention (BI) on alcohol use in a sample of patients treated for opioid or cocaine dependence in a specialized outpatient clinic.


Adult outpatients treated for opioid or cocaine dependence in Switzerland were screened for excessive alcohol drinking and dependence with the AUDIT. Patients with AUDIT scores that indicated excessive drinking or dependence were randomized into two groups--treatment as usual or treatment as usual together with BI--and assessed at 3 months and 9 months.


Findings revealed a high rate (44%) of problematic alcohol use (excessive drinking and dependence) among patients with opiate and cocaine dependence. The number of drinks per week decreased significantly between T0 (inclusion) and T3 (month 3). A decrease in average AUDIT scores was observed between T0 and T3 and between T0 and T9 (month 9). No statistically significant difference between treatment groups was observed.


In a substance abuse specialized setting, screening for alcohol use with the AUDIT, followed by feedback on the score, and use of alcohol BI are both possibly useful strategies to induce changes in problematic alcohol use. Definitive conclusions cannot, however, be drawn from the study because of limitations such as lack of a naturalistic group. An important result of the study is the excellent internal consistency of AUDIT in a population treated for opiate or cocaine dependence.

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