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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1994 Dec;62(6):1127-40.

Avoiding the horrid and beastly sin of drunkenness: does dissuasion make a difference?

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030-1410.


Nearly 3 centuries ago, an anonymous English author prepared an educational brochure to dissuade problem drinkers from the "horrid and beastly sin of drunkenness" (Anonymous, 1705). During the past 2 decades, more than 25 randomized trials have been conducted in 12 countries to evaluate 2 basic questions: (a) Does dissuasion make a difference, and (b) What kinds of dissuasion work best? In response to the first question, studies indicate that dissuasion does make a difference with heavy drinkers who have not developed severe alcohol dependence. In response to the second question, the evidence is more equivocal because of the practical and methodological problems encountered in the comparison of different interventions. It is concluded that changes sometimes attributed to specific behavioral and psychological interventions may be due to a combination of advice, individual motivation, and nonspecific social influence.

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