Intention to Reduce Drinking Alcohol and Preferred Sources of Support

Although rates vary from country to country, harmful alcohol use can be considered a global public health concern. The Global Drug Survey (GDS) is the world's largest annual survey of substance use. 

A recent study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, has analysed data from 82,190 GDS respondents from 12 countries across four continents regarding alcohol use over the past 12 months.  

The research aimed to gain an understanding of regional differences in people’s intentions to reduce drinking and where people looked to for support to reduce their drinking.

Results from the study:

  • Almost half of those who wanted help to cut down were planning to seek help. 

  • The country with the highest proportion of respondents who said they thought their doctor would tell them to ‘drink less’ was the United Kingdom.

  • People with higher risk and possibly dependent drinking patterns were more likely to select counselling or therapy at a specialist doctor. 

  • People with low and increasing risk levels were more likely to select online tools. 

  • Online tools appeared to be most preferred in English speaking countries and those educated to degree level.

  • Alternative therapy was preferred mainly in Southern European Counties and South America.

  • In Switzerland, Denmark, and Germany, face to face approaches from either a specialist counsellor or GP were preferred.

The survey results highlight the importance of harnessing technology to develop online interventions that will help people reduce their alcohol consumption. Interventions should be carefully designed so they can act as a gateway for further quality professional support if needed.

Davies, Emma L., Larissa J. Maier, Adam R. Winstock, and Jason A. Ferris. "Intention to reduce drinking alcohol and preferred sources of support: An international cross-sectional study." Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (2019).
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