Drinking Less? Do It Yourself! is a television-supported self-help intervention for problem drinking.
The core component consists of five 25-minute televised sessions – to be digested one per week – featuring a trained addiction coach and two real-life problem drinking course participants (53 year old man and 47 year old woman). The coach provides advice to the pair, as well as the general public, about low-risk drinking and how to take the next steps to cut back. There are four stages: personal alcohol consumption evaluation, goal setting for future moderation, behavior change, and consolidation or relapse prevention. Each subsequent week involves televised coach feedback to the televised participants on success and failures from the previous week’s efforts to reduce consumption, as well as advice to the general viewing public about low-risk drinking and how to take steps to cut back. The series advises use of additional support materials (self-help manual and related self-help website called Drinking Less – www.minderdrinken.nl).
DVD (for trial)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Adherence to drinking guidelines
Young Adults (18-30)
Summary: In this first randomized controlled trial of a television-supported, self-help intervention for problem drinkers, 181 eligible participants (men and women whose consumption exceeded the threshold for national guidelines) recruited through ads in national newspapers were randomized to the experimental condition (a 5-session, DVD-mimic of the TV series sent in the mail – one per week (DL)) or to a waitlist control group (WL) that received all course materials after the T1 assessment, as the nationwide telecast began. Baseline assessments (T0) took place two weeks or less before the start of the intervention. A follow-up assessment was conducted five weeks after the intervention started (T1), with an additional follow up questionnaire sent to the intervention group 3 months post- intervention (T2). No between-group comparisons were made at T2 as control group then had access to the course.
Attrition rates at follow-up were equally distributed across conditions. At posttest (T1), DL participants were significantly more likely to have reverted to lower-risk drinking than those in the WL group (40% vs 6.6%), as well as to have reduced their weekly intake by a significantly greater amount than controls (between group difference of 16.6 units). The DL group also reported significantly fewer alcohol related problems at T1 compared to baseline (1.5 scale point change or medium effect size) but not compared with controls. Effects were maintained for percent drinking below threshold levels at T2, as well as for mean weekly alcohol consumption and alcohol related problems for the DL group.
Take Away: Television-based self-help interventions, supported by self-help tools such as manuals and web-based interventions, may be effective in reducing problem drinking in self-referred adults from the general population. Additionally, given that television-based intervention reached a higher proportion of low-skilled people than has so far been the case with web-based alcohol interventions, it may be an important channel for reaching out to groups with less education.