Economic and Social Research Council
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A leap forward in addiction awareness and control

A study by a team of researchers at Bangor University has designed and tested two programmes that help problem drinkers curb their alcohol abuse. The study shows positive results after drinkers have followed either the Alcohol Attention-Control Training Programme (AACTP) or the Life Enhancement and Advancement Programme (LEAP).

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) the study designed the two programmes and examined their effectiveness in helping excessive drinkers reduce their drinking. The AACTP and LEAP programmes address the challenges faced by excessive drinkers, including a preoccupation with drinking made worse by alcohol-related stimuli around them. The study also addressed excessive drinkers' difficulties with motivation which prevent them focusing on and achieving goals which provide alternative healthy activities to drinking alcohol.

The principal researcher, Professor Miles Cox, said: "We are very encouraged by the results. They show that excessive drinkers can reduce their drinking with the aid of the simple training procedures that we developed."

The main findings from the two programmes were:

  • the drinkers' weekly alcohol consumption decreased significantly;
  • a reduction in alcohol-related problems greatly reduced, and there was an increase in the drinkers' confidence in their ability to resist a drink in situations previously thought of as high-risk;
  • drinkers' motivation to reduce their consumption increased.

Findings from AACTP:

  • a reduction in overall alcohol consumption;
  • increased confidence in the drinkers' ability to resist drinking in high-risk situations, such as when feeling socially uneasy or in physical discomfort.

Findings from LEAP:

  • increased motivation of participants to change their drinking habits and reduce alcohol intake;
  • drinkers were helped to improve their lives and general functioning by breaking the chain of drink-related behaviours.

The impact of this research on how practitioners treat alcohol problems could be wide-ranging with tried-and-tested training programmes used to treat alcohol-related problems much more effectively.

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Notes for Editors

  1. This release is based on the findings from 'Effects of attentional and motivational training on reducing excessive drinking' funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and carried out by W Miles Cox, Javad S Fadardi, Steven G Hosier and Emmanuel M Pothos of Bangor University.
  2. Methodology: a sample size of 247 participants was used, and these were recruited from community health initiatives, using posters and fliers distributed in GP surgeries and Bangor University, newspapers, notices on buses and the School of Psychology Student Participant Panel. After giving consent, participants were randomly assigned to four groups: Control group; AACTP group; LEAP group; or Combination group (AACTP and LEAP).
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk 
  4. The ESRC confirms the quality of its funded research by evaluating research projects through a process of peer review. This research has been graded as good.

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