Five-year outcomes of alcohol-dependent persons treated with motivational enhancement

J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008 Jul;69(4):589-93. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2008.69.589.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether the superior treatment effect of motivational enhancement therapy (MET) previously demonstrated at 6 months was sustained at a 5-year posttreatment follow-up.

Method: Patients with mild to moderate alcohol dependence had completed a trial in which all patients were assessed, attended a brief feedback session, and were randomized to four sessions of MET, nondirective reflective listening, or no further counseling. The primary drinking outcome was unequivocal heavy drinking (UHD), defined as drinking 10 or more standard drinks on six or more occasions over a 6-month period. At the 6-month follow-up, 108 of 122 patients agreed to a further follow-up interview.

Results: Seventy-seven patients were successfully followed for a mean (SD) of 58 (14) months after the completion of treatment. Although the group as a whole had continued to improve, with rates of UHD reduced from 51 % at 6 months to 25% at 5 years, there was no difference by treatment group in drinking for UHD or a range of lower drinking thresholds.

Conclusions: Although 5-year outcomes were indistinguishable among the three treatment groups, this was the result of patients in the comparison conditions catching up to the drinking gains of MET patients rather than a deterioration in drinking for MET patients. Individuals allocated to receive MET achieved a greater reduction sooner than either of the comparison treatment conditions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • New Zealand
  • Person-Centered Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Temperance / psychology*
  • Temperance / statistics & numerical data


  • Illicit Drugs