Integrating alcohol response feedback in a brief intervention for young adult heavy drinkers who smoke: A pilot study

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Oct 1:155:293-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.08.017. Epub 2015 Aug 29.


Background: More effective approaches are needed to enhance drinking and other health behavior (e.g., smoking) outcomes of alcohol brief intervention (BI). Young adult heavy drinkers often engage in other health risk behaviors and show sensitivity to alcohol's stimulating and rewarding effects, which predicts future alcohol-related problems. However, standard alcohol BIs do not address these issues. The current pilot study tested the utility of including feedback on alcohol response phenotype to improve BI outcomes among young adult heavy drinkers who smoke (HDS).

Methods: Thirty-three young adult (M±SD age=23.8±2.1 years) HDS (8.7±4.3 binge episodes/month; 23.6±6.3 smoking days/month) were randomly assigned to standard alcohol BI (BI-S; n=11), standard alcohol BI with personalized alcohol response feedback (BI-ARF; n=10), or a health behavior attention control BI (AC; n=11). Alcohol responses (stimulation, sedation, reward, and smoking urge) for the BI-ARF were recorded during a separate alcohol challenge session (.8g/kg). Outcomes were past-month drinking and smoking behavior assessed at 1- and 6-months post-intervention.

Results: At 6-month follow-up, the BI-ARF produced significant reductions in binge drinking, alcohol-smoking co-use, drinking quantity and frequency, and smoking frequency, but not maximum drinks per occasion, relative to baseline. Overall, the BI-ARF produced larger reductions in drinking/smoking behaviors at follow-up than did the BI-S or AC.

Conclusions: Including personalized feedback on alcohol response phenotype may improve BI outcomes for young adult HDS. Additional research is warranted to enhance and refine this approach in a broader sample.

Keywords: Alcohol response; Binge drinking; Brief intervention; Smoking; Young adult.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / therapy*
  • Counseling
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Feedback, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychotherapy, Brief*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Ethanol