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3. Advice: Includes direct feedback and suggestions to clients to help
them cope with their drinking problems and other life situations that
may contribute to alcohol abuse.
4. Menu: Includes a list of strategies to reduce drinking and to cope
with such high-risk situations as loneliness, boredom, family problems,
and lack of social opportunities.
5. Empathy: Bien et al. (1993) strongly emphasize the need for a warm,
empathetic and understanding style of treatment. Miller and Roilnick
(1991) found that an empathetic counseling style produced a 77%
reduction in patient drinking as compared with a 55% reduction
when a confrontational approach was used.
6. Self-efficacy: This includes strategies to help clients rely on their
inner resources to make a change in their drinking behavior. Inner
resources may include positive points of view about themselves, help-
ing others, staying busy, and good problem-solving and coping skills.
Babor and Higgins-Biddle (2000) discuss the use of brief interventions
with people involved in “risky drinking” who are not as yet classified as
alcohol dependent. Brief interventions are usually limited to 3 5 sessions
of counseling and education. The intent of brief interventions is to prevent
the onset of more serious alcohol-related problems. According to Babor
and Higgins-Biddle, “Most programs are instructional and motivational,
designed to address the specific behavior of drinking with information,
feedback, health education, skill-building, and practical advice, rather than
with psychotherapy or other specialized treatment techniques” (p. 676).
Higgins-Biddle, Babor, Mullahy, Daniels, and Mcree (1997) analyzed
14 random studies of brief interventions, which included a total of more
than 20,000 risky drinkers. They report a net reduction in drinking of
21% for males and 8% for females. To improve the effectiveness of short-
term interventions, Babor and Higgins-Biddle (2000) encourage the use
of early identification of problem drinking, life-health monitoring by
health and mental health professionals, and risk counseling that includes
screening and brief intervention to inform and motivate potential alcohol
abusers of the risk of serious alcohol dependence and to help change their
alcohol use. This approach requires a high degree of cooperation among
health and education personnel, who are often loathe to identify very
young people as having “at risk” alcohol problems because they fear that
doing so will exacerbate the problem through public identification and
often believe that more moderate drinking will take place as the child
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