The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has established through years of clinical research the effectiveness of the following interventions to treat alcohol problems.
Professional delivery of these interventions follows established protocols that have been published in manual form.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) primarily targets alcohol dependent individuals. It assumes that alcoholism is learned problematic behavior that begins and continues with the patientâ€™s distorted belief that alcohol helps him or her cope with stress.
CBT therapists usually try to change how a patient thinks about alcohol, and to assist a patient in identifying stressful situations and alternative ways of coping with these situations. CBT allows patients to establish the goals of treatment. These can range from controlled drinking to abstinence.
Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) targets all problem drinkers, including alcohol dependent individuals.
It is based on principles of motivational psychology and focuses on increasing a patientâ€™s internal motivation to change his or her drinking behavior.
MET doesnâ€™t try to guide the patient through recovery step-by-step. Instead, it uses objective feedback and empathic listening techniques to influence positive change.
MET is a less intensive intervention, requiring only four sessions to complete.
Twelve-step facilitation therapy (TSF) primarily targets alcohol dependent individuals. It is grounded in the concept of alcoholism as spiritual and medical disease.
Patients are encouraged to accept an alcoholic identity and to become involved in support group activities (going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, getting a sponsor and working the 12 steps of AA). Abstinence is the goal of TSF.
Behavioral marital therapy (BMT) and other couples and family therapies primarily target alcohol-dependent individuals.
They recognize that spouses, significant others and family members of patients being treated for alcoholism can play a critical role in recovery.
These therapies seek to enhance communication between couples and among family members to improve the functioning of relationships.
This leads to longer retention in treatment for patients, longer periods of abstinence among patients, and less anxiety and enabling behavior among nonalcoholic spouses, significant others and family members.
Research Sources: Project MATCH Research Group. 1997; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2003. List of Alcohol Interventions for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Brief-TSF follows the principles of full TSF and is designed for non-specialist healthcare workers as an earlier intervention.