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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Affect regulation training (ART) for alcohol use disorders: Development of a novel intervention for negative affect drinkers

Although negative affect is a common precipitant of alcohol relapse, there are few interventions for alcohol dependence that specifically target negative affect. In this stage 1a/1b treatment development study, several affect regulation strategies (e.g., mindfulness, prolonged exposure, distress tolerance) were combined to create a new treatment supplement called affect regulation training (ART), which could be added to enhance cognitive–behavioral therapy (CBT) for alcohol dependence.

A draft therapy manual was given to therapists and treatment experts before being administered to several patients who also provided input. After two rounds of manual development (stage 1a), a pilot randomized clinical trial (N = 77) of alcohol-dependent outpatients who reported drinking often in negative affect situations was conducted (stage 1b). Participants received 12-weekly, 90-minute sessions of either CBT for alcohol dependence plus ART (CBT + ART) or CBT plus a healthy lifestyles control condition (CBT + HLS). Baseline, end-of-treatment, and 3- and 6-month posttreatment interviews were conducted.

For both treatment conditions, participant ratings of treatment satisfaction were high, with CBT + ART rated significantly higher. Drinking outcome results indicated greater reductions in alcohol use for CBT + ART when compared to CBT + HLS, with moderate effect sizes for percent days abstinent, drinks per day, drinks per drinking day, and percent heavy drinking days.

Overall, findings support further research on affect regulation interventions for negative affect drinkers.

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