A brief internet-based intervention reduces weekly drinking amongst young males with unhealthy alcohol use
Internet-based interventions may provide an engaging and effective approach to prevent substance use amongst young adults. A recent study investigated if this approach was effective at reducing alcohol use amongst young men (20-21yo) in the general population that reported unhealthy alcohol use (>14 drinks/week or ≥ 6 drinks/occasion at least monthly or Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores ≥ 8). The study design included a randomized controlled trial with experimental (n=367) and control (n=370) subjects completing a baseline assessment, followed by a 1- and 6-month follow-up assessment after the internet intervention (no intervention for control subjects). In the baseline assessment, participants self-reported the number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week, binge drinking prevalence, as well as the number of consequences experienced from drinking. Immediately following the baseline assessment, experimental subjects received personalized online feedback—this feedback defined “the internet-based intervention” and consisted of: normative feedback, feedback on consequences of alcohol use, calorific value and BAC of/for reported consumption, indication of risk, recommendation indicating low-risk drinking limits, and general information on alcohol and health. At the 6-month timepoint, experimental subjects demonstrated a significant reduction in both the number of drinks consumed per week (10.1 to 8.4) and their AUDIT score (from 10.66 to 8.95), but not in binge drinking prevalence (86% to 70%) or the number of consequences experienced (2.8 to 2.1) when compared to control subjects. Take Away: While the observed reductions remain encouraging, the magnitude of some endpoints still suggests unhealthy alcohol use. Future work may expand upon this intervention approach by including a more aggressive initial intervention session, or by including “booster” intervention sessions over time.