Study proposes new treatment method for alcohol problems

April 11, 2014 |

A study published by University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) suggests a new approach to help certain people stop drinking.

“For people who report problem drinking in negative emotional situations, such as depression, anxiety or stress, we have developed a promising treatment approach that shows greater reductions in alcohol use when compared to standard treatment,” says study director Paul Stasiewicz, RIA  senior research scientist.

Many alcohol treatment programs use cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to help people with alcohol use disorders. CBT helps people identify their high-risk drinking situations and teaches skills to help manage those situations without drinking.

Stasiewicz’s study developed and tested a new treatment he calls “affect regulation training” (ART). ART was developed to supplement the standard CBT program for those people whose drinking is strongly tied to negative emotions.


“The clinical techniques used in ART help patients cope more effectively with their emotions by helping people experience and deal with negative feelings in an environment that does not involve drinking,” Stasiewicz says. “Patients learn to better tolerate and accept the uncomfortable experience without engaging in substance use.”

The initial study showed that people who received ART in addition to CBT had greater reductions in alcohol use compared to people who received a health and wellness component with CBT.

“The results show promise and should be of interest to treatment providers who are seeking additional strategies to help those who drink in negative emotional situations,” Stasiewicz says.

Co-investigators on the study were Scott F. Coffey from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Suzy B. Gulliver from the Department of Medical Affairs and Texas A&M College of Medicine, and Clara M. Bradizza, Robert C. Schlauch, Gregory D. Gudleski, project director, and Christopher W. Bole, database manager, all from RIA. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

5 Responses to Study proposes new treatment method for alcohol problems

  1. K Heugh (u14288126) May 2, 2014 at 5:26 am #

    Does this treatment not rely too much on the alcohol dependent person? They have to identify high risk situations but would this not cause more problems because people have different perceptions on different situations? And is emotion the best way to judge a situation? There is a huge overlap between different emotions and it is often hard to identify a single emotion.
    I would also like to know the success rate of this treatment method.

  2. Rudzani 14167043 April 28, 2014 at 2:01 am #

    And that you can not hide your true identity just under alcohol,being shy is normal.One just have to learn to live with it.I’m shy and my shyness helped me to discover my high self-esteem and self-worth,as they always say “BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.” just imagine if we were all the same in the world-life would be boring.Drinking alcohol just to get rid of something bothering you is a problem.So I say that person really need this help from the ART.

  3. Sally-Ann Baloyi April 16, 2014 at 12:12 am #


    Taking alcohol to hide shyness can also be referred as a negative emotion because you hide your own self behind the works of alcohol, such people need to interact more with people and expose themselves to the public when they are not under the effects of alcohol so they can be used to being surrounded by people. Though a lot of people believe stress goes away when they drink, it is not the case because it all comes back when they sober up. Hopefully this treatment will help a lot of people see that alcohol is not a solution to their problems.

  4. DM Mofokeng 14097801 April 14, 2014 at 3:05 am #

    We all know that alcohol abuse is a serious problem especially in South Africa. All I want know is how long a person has to take this treatment of ART and how it will make a person to stop drinking?

  5. EO Mathibela 14093767 April 13, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    It is true that most people abuse alcohol due to negative emotional environments and the approach to solve this issue sounds promising. It is said that alcohol amplifies the character of a being and makes one behave in a way that they would not if they are sober. If a person abuses alcohol just to take away being shy, can that be taken as negative emotion. If not, how can such a person be aided?

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