Research on CBT for alcohol use disorder

So I receive email updates from Alcohol Policy UK and recently one of them highlighted a new meta-analysis of published studies on the effectiveness of combining cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing (MI) to treat comorbid clinical and subclinical alcohol use disorder (AUD) and major depression (MDD) and estimate the effect of this compared with usual care.

The researchers conducted systematic literature searches in PubMed, PsycINFO and Embase up to June 2013 and identified additional studies through cross-references in included studies and systematic reviews. Twelve studies comprising 1721 patients met their inclusion criteria. The studies had sufficient statistical power to detect small effect sizes.

They concluded that combined cognitive-behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing for clinical or subclinical depressive and alcohol use disorders has a small but clinically significant effect in treatment outcomes compared with treatment as usual.

Let’s see if my anecdotal experience supports their research findings? I hope so 🙂  If you were prone to depression before when you were drinking has it improved if you’ve stopped?

Riper, H., Andersson, G., Hunter, S.B., de Wit, J., Berking, M. and Cuijpers, P. 2014
Treatment of comorbid alcohol use disorders and depression with cognitive-behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing: a meta-analysis. Addiction. Mar;109(3):394-406. doi: 10.1111/add.12441. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

10 thoughts on “Research on CBT for alcohol use disorder

  1. The term “alcohol use disorder” is an interesting one, a good one I believe. Is it in general use? The only other time I heard it used was Dr John Kelly on the Bubble Hour, and he was talking about how terminology affects how we see people / problems (the labelling thing again). It was a while ago I listened, but from what I remember it went like this – there were studies where people were asked to judge the severity of a sentence handed down to a person who was found guilty of a crime, was it right, too harsh, too lenient. The “culprits” were variously described as “substance abusers” or people with “a substance use disorder”. That was the only difference in the scenarios, but in the case where the phrase “substance abuser” was used, people generally felt harsher sentences should be used, compared with the case of the “substance use disorder”. Like a lot harsher. These labels really make a difference.
    Interesting posts on CBT – hope this is working out for you 🙂 xxx

    1. I think language is a HUGE influencer – that whole cognitive miser thing 😉 CBT is working but it is a painful process (for me anyway!). No pain no gain right? 🙂 xx

  2. Yes my depression is more manageable since I stopped drinking (9 1/2 months now) the aa meetings I find brilliant too. Don’t take any medication now…. Did while I was drinking xx

    1. Hi Louise Thank you for reading and commenting. Glad to hear your depression is more manageable and congrats on the 9 1/2 months – that’s fantastic 🙂 Also happy that you find AA meetings beneficial too. Not made it to one yet but have turned the idea over in my head many times so thanks for the recommendation. Medication and booze free – what could be better? xx

  3. depression? yes. better? yes – on the whole. but have not gone down the therapy route although if you added up the hours I have spent on sober blogs I would probably have to remortgage to be able to afford that much time with a therapist 🙂

    interesting on the phraseology, as well. my preferred term is alcohol dependence. because it describes it so well, and the implication is there that it can be reduced/removed. I feel very strongly that I do not want to be an alcoholic *for ever*. in the same way that I know I used to have a dependence on nicotine, but now I do not, because I have eliminated it from my life. however if I started smoking again the physical/psychological addictions WOULD still kick in. but I do not think about smoking from one month to the next. just because it is out there doesn’t mean I have to do it. rant over 😉

    1. Prim – I hear ya! I see myself as a drinker who chooses not to drink anymore in the same way that I am a smoker who chooses not to smoke. I feel we always have a choice regarding that first fag or drink but after that all bets are off 😉

  4. Substance use disorder is how it is described in the psychiatrists ‘bible’ the DSM, I think it a generally better term than alcoholic. My depression has improved a lot, although I am not yet reafy to come off my meds after many years, I want a bit more sober time and therapy first. I’m glad you are finding the CBT helpful, Lucy xx

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