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Evaluating the Combination of a Brief Motivational Intervention Plus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression and Heavy Episodic Drinking in College Students

Drinking more than 5 or more alcoholic beverages in two hours for men or 4 or more alcoholic beverages in two hours for women is defined as heavy episodic drinking (HED). The current study looked at a combined Brief Motivational Intervention (BMI) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression (CBT-D) to potentially reduce HED, alcohol related problems, and depressive symptoms among college students.

Participants were recruited from colleges around Boston who reported depressed mood and HED. The final sample was 94 undergraduate students between the age of 18 and 23 years old. Those who qualified then underwent eight sessions of CBT-D or CBT-D along with BMI. After these sessions there were two follow ups occurring at the end of the sessions and 1-month after the first follow up. The interviews assessed depressive symptoms, alcohol use, diagnoses, alcohol-related problems, and satisfaction and feasibility. The CBT-D and BMI group received client-centered counseling that was based on the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program. The CBT-D alone group did not include reviewing drinking behaviors or the Personalized Feedback Form that was included in the other group.

Results showed that participants in either group reported a large reduction in HED over the course of the study. They also found that participants in the CBT-D group continued to lower alcohol use and those in the CBT-D and BMI group slightly increased their HED.  Researchers found no significant differences between baseline HED and treatment condition on depressive symptoms. These results show that CBT-D may help to reduce depressive symptoms and HED among college students and it could be beneficial to implement this type of counseling on college campuses.

Take Away: The current study looked at a combined Brief Motivational Intervention (BMI) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression (CBT-D) to potentially reduce HED among college students. The final sample was 94 undergraduate students that underwent eight sessions of CBT-D or CBT-D along with BMI. The CBT-D and BMI group received counseling based on the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program. The CBT-D alone group did not include reviewing drinking behaviors or the Personalized Feedback Form. Participants in the CBT-D group continued to lower alcohol use and those in the CBT-D and BMI group slightly increased their HED over the course of the study. These results show that CBT-D may help to reduce depressive symptoms and HED among college students.

“Evaluating the combination of a Brief Motivational Intervention plus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression and heavy episodic drinking in college students”: Correction to Pedrelli et al. (2019). (2020). Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 34(2), 319–319. doi: 10.1037/adb0000574

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