Randomised Controlled Trial of a New Intervention for Alcohol Craving (2007)

Alcohol problems continue to pose a significant burden across many areas, including the physical and mental health of the individual, and the wider implications for families, health systems providing care, and society as a whole. Despite the existence of a variety of therapies including in- and outpatient programs and anti-craving medications, people continue to struggle with this problem. Increased craving for alcohol is a major factor in ability to adhere to treatment, rate of progress, and long-term maintenance of change. Whilst current medications target craving, they provide only short-term symptom relief, and not all people find them effective. Cravings are both distracting and distressing during treatment, and increased craving often predicts treatment drop-out and relapse. This project evaluates a new treatment for alcohol misuse: CARM - Craving for Alcohol: Reduction and Management. This 8-session enhanced Cognitive-Behaviour Treatment (CBT) focuses on teaching people new skills to manage and reduce cravings, and is based on a new theory of craving that has strong research support. The study compares 4 groups: CARM; a more traditional CBT treatment for alcohol problems [motivational interviewing, problem solving for high-risk situations, and relapse prevention]; plus two brief interventions [Motivational Interviewing plus Self-Monitoring, and Self-Monitoring alone] both followed by CARM after an 8 week delay. All participants are able to set their own goals of abstinence or reduced use. Expected outcomes: all participants will learn effective skills to manage their alcohol use, resulting in significant reductions in alcohol consumption and fewer problems from alcohol use; however, those receiving CARM will find it easier to manage cravings during treatment, and will make faster progress and show less treatment drop-out. It is also anticipated that participants in CARM will show better long-term maintenance of treatment gains.
Grant type:
NHMRC Project Grant
  • Director
    Centre for Youth Substance Abuse
    Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
    Princess Alexandra Hospital Southside Clinical Unit
    Faculty of Medicine
    Affiliate Professor
    School of Psychology
    Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences
Funded by:
National Health and Medical Research Council