Reduction of drinking in problem drinkers and all-cause mortality

Alcohol Alcohol. 2013 Jul-Aug;48(4):509-13. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agt021. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Alcohol consumption has been linked with considerable mortality, and reduction of drinking, especially of heavy drinking, has been suggested as one of the main measures to reduce alcohol-attributable mortality. Aggregate-level studies including but not limited to natural experiments support this suggestion; however, causality cannot be established in ecological analysis. The results of individual-level cohort studies are ambiguous. On the other hand, randomized clinical trials with problem drinkers show that brief interventions leading to a reduction of average drinking also led to a reduction of all-cause mortality within 1 year. The results of these studies were pooled and a model for reduction of drinking in heavy drinkers and its consequences for all-cause mortality risk was estimated. Ceteris paribus, the higher the level of drinking, the stronger the effects of a given reduction. Implications for interventions and public health are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / mortality*
  • Alcohol Drinking / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*