Most Attempts At Reducing Alcohol Consumption Fail Interview with:
“Alcohol Poisoning PSA Video Shoot” by Stop Alcohol Deaths, Inc. is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. Frank de Vocht

Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology and Public Health Research
Academic Lead Year 1 MBChB (MB21) ‘Foundations of Medicine’ Programme
Population Health Sciences
Bristol Medical School
University of Bristol What is the background for this study?

Response: We were interested in prospectively investigating whether people who drink alcohol in the general population (so not patients), and who indicated that the were planning to reduce their consumption or complete stop drinking in the near future would, on average, succeed and have reduced consumption six months later. What are the main findings? 

Response: The main findings were that about 20% of the increasing and higher risk drinkers reported that they were planning on reducing their consumption in the near future, and that this was correlated with how much they reported drinking. Subsequently, those people who did report they were going to try did indeed more often report that they had tried to reduce consumption six months later. However, although average consumption had reduced a bit for everyone six months later, there was no evidence of an additional reduction for the people who intended to reduce consumption compared to those who had no intention to reduce their alcohol intake. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: The main message as we see it, is that our data shows that for the majority of people just the intention of reducing alcohol consumption, or even starting doing this, does not result in a sustainable change, and people revert back to their normal lifestyle. As such, if you are serious about reducing alcohol consumption, you should consider to make a structural change that prevents that; for example to do this together with friends and/or family, join ‘Dry January’ or something similar, or have a look at using some newly developed mobile phone apps that may work. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: An obvious next step would be to robustly investigate whether the approached above are effective in the longer term.

Disclosures:  There are no conflicts of interest, and the study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research School for Public Health Research (NIHR SPHR).


Motivation to reduce alcohol consumption and subsequent attempts at reduction and changes in consumption in increasing and higher-risk drinkers in England: a prospective population survey’ by Frank de Vocht, Jamie Brown, Emma Beard, Robert West, Susan Michie, Rona Campbell, Matthew Hickman in Addiction

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Last Updated on January 25, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD