Telephone-based intervention helps soldiers fight alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse in the U.S. armed forces has become a cause of concern, pushing many into the burrows of addiction. Military personnel frequently use alcohol to combat their stress, discomfort, boredom, loneliness, as well as to compensate for the lack of recreational activities. In reality, alcohol use has become so prevalent among military members that its availability within the military campus or otherwise has never been a challenge. Additionally, ritualized drinking opportunities, along with inconsistent policies, contribute to a work culture that further encourages heavy and binge drinking among the personnel.

Looking at the negative repercussions of alcohol use on the army personnel, authorities have come up strategies such as introducing changes in the alcohol use policies, organizing campaigns to deglamorize alcohol and highlighting their responsibilities toward the country and their families, educating about the health effects of alcohol, among others. However, the impact of these initiatives is yet to be ascertained.

A 2016 study suggested that telephone-based intervention can give promising results when it comes to dealing with alcohol abuse among the military. Interestingly, the participants were found to show a significant reduction in their drinking habit, had lower rates of alcohol dependence and were more likely to seek treatment.

Providing educational information helps in taking first step toward recovery

Telephone-based intervention primarily involved the technique of motivational interviewing (MI) to treat the problem of alcohol abuse in the participants. Notably, MI is one of the widely used psychotherapy techniques that involves patient-centered counseling to explore and resolve the behavioral issues of the patient. The whole strategy revolves around listening to the patient, understanding the conflict and motivating him or her to resolve the issue.

In the study titled, “Telephone-based intervention shows promise in combating alcohol abuse among soldiers”, conducted by the University of Washington, the researchers interviewed military participants to determine their daily and monthly alcohol consumption. Next, the participants were questioned about the consequences of alcohol as per their knowledge. Post the interview, each of the participant was randomized to either a treatment or a control group.

While the participants in the control group were educated on about alcohol and other drug use, those in the treatment group were exposed to a one-hour personalized intervention session, which used “motivational interviewing” to induce positive changes in their behavior, over the phone.

According to the study, the telephonic intervention helped the participants to connect their behavior with their values and goals and also helped them talk openly with someone who was compassionate and non-judgmental.

Surprisingly, in the follow-up interviews, which were conducted in three and six months after the telephonic sessions, the participants experienced a significant reduction in the rate of drinking as well as alcohol dependence. “Intervention group participants went from drinking 32 drinks weekly on average to 14 drinks weekly after six months, and their rates of alcohol dependence dropped from 83 to 22 percent. Alcohol dependence also decreased in the control group, from 83 to 35 percent,” said the study.

Clearly, the study showed that nearly one-third of soldiers in both the groups showed an inclination toward seeking treatment , however, a more dramatic decrease in drinking was seen in case of telephone-based intervention. While a personal interaction was more effective, providing educational information may be enough to encourage someone to take the first step toward recovery, added the study.

Seeking professional help

Witnessing bloodshed and extreme violence often leaves a scarring effect on the military personnel. Hence, a majority of them resort to alcohol to comfort their pain, agony and discomfort. However, the regular use of alcohol soon turns into a devastating addiction.

If you or your loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse, the Alcohol Addiction Get Help Helpline can assist you in finding the best alcohol addiction treatment centers in the United States. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-281-3014 or chat online to know about the best alcohol addiction treatment centers in your vicinity.