The University Record, May 22, 1995

DrinkWise reports high level of success over past year

Counselors for the Medical Center's DrinkWise program report a 75 percent drop in the number of drinks per week consumed by clients participating in the year-old program.

DrinkWise, an eight-week alcohol education program for people with mild to moderate alcohol problems, is designed to help individuals quit or reduce alcohol consumption, explains Keith D. Bruhnsen, manager of Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.

"The results that we have confirm the evidence that early intervention for those people with mild to moderate drinking problems does work by ultimately resulting in the consumption of alcohol at a lower risk and healthier level," Bruhnsen says.

Fifty clients have completed the DrinkWise program since its inception last May. Fifteen of those clients who have been out of the program for at least three months report an average decrease in the number of drinks consumed weekly from 24 to 5.4. Also, two clients continue to abstain from drinking.

"We begin working with a population of people who are not experiencing severe consequences as a result of their drinking, but who are at risk for developing more severe problems. Nearly 93 percent of our clientele join the program voluntarily," Bruhnsen says, noting that if people can be educated on appropriate drinking habits, they can reduce their alcohol consumption dramatically.

Clients choose to attend either four one-hour private sessions or five two-hour sessions every other week. In addition, clients choose their own treatment goals. Bruhnsen says that research has shown that allowing people to set their own goals and adjust them when needed builds into their clients' success.

He noted that there currently are no conclusive findings on the long-term drinking habits of DrinkWise clients, but preliminary research shows that clients tend to maintain responsible drinking patterns at least two years after completing the program.

"Our hope is that learning appropriate habits and guidelines for sensible use will prevent long-term drinking problems," Bruhnsen adds.

DrinkWise is sponsored by MedSport.

For more information, call DrinkWise at 747-WISE.