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Friday, January 18, 2013

Urge-specific and lifestyle coping strategies of alcoholics: Relationships of specific strategies to treatment outcome

The present study examined the efficacy of various specific lifestyle and situation-specific coping skills by determining the relationship of each of these strategies to drinking outcomes.

Patients with alcohol dependence in intensive day treatment (n=165) were participating in a randomized trial of naltrexone versus placebo and adjunctive communication and coping skills training or a control treatment. The alcohol version of the Urge-Specific Strategies (USS) questionnaire and the General Strategies for Alcoholics (GSA) were administered early in treatment. The USS assesses 16 situation-specific strategies taught in cue exposure treatment, communication skills training, or relaxation/meditation training to cope with experiencing an urge to drink (e.g., think of positive and negative consequences of drinking, use mastery messages, engage in an alternative behavior); the 21-item GSA assesses lifestyle change strategies taught in communication skills training and in the general treatment program (e.g., keep busy, exercise regularly, attend 12-Step meetings, avoid high-risk situations). Alcohol use and frequency of use of the skills were assessed 6 and 12 months following treatment.

Many specific behavioral and cognitive coping strategies were significantly related to drinking outcomes, including 13 urge-specific and 18 general lifestyle strategies, while other strategies were unrelated.

Since some strategies taught in treatment are more effective in preventing relapse than others; treatment may be improved by focusing on these specific strategies. Since results may be limited to this population, replication is needed in more diverse settings and without medication.

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