"Alcoholics who decide to enter treatment are likely to reduce drinking. Those who decrease their drinking are more likely to remain in treatment”, explain Robert Cutler and David Fishbain from the department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Miami, the authors of the study.
Cutler and Fishbain re-examined data from Project MATCH - a large trial carried out in the late 1990's, which concluded that therapy for alcoholism produced excellent outcomes, although the results were controversial and inconclusive.
Project MATCH assessed the effectiveness of three different therapies: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) and Twelve Step Facilitation (TSF). Cutler and Fishbain investigated the relationship between the number of therapy sessions attended and how successful project MATCH participants had been at reducing and abstaining from drinking. For all patients, drinking outcome was measured in two ways, percent days abstinent (PDA) and drinks per drinking day (DDD).
For participants who attended the twelve treatment sessions, PDA increased by 60% almost immediately, at week one, but increased by only a further four percent during the following eleven weeks of treatment. The researchers also found that participants who dropped out before the program even began had significantly better outcomes at the end of the program than those who dropped out after one session. In the long-term, the number of treatment sessions attended had a poor correlation with the outcome.
The authors attribute their findings to the importance of self-selection; i.e. that patients who reduce their alcohol consumption are more likely to enter or remain in treatment, and those who are drinking are more likely to drop out of treatment.
MEDICA.de; Source: BMC Public Health