Voluntary Brief Intervention for Multiple Substances Is of Questionable Benefit in Young Adult Men
Evidence exists for the efficacy of brief interventions (BI) following a positive screen for at-risk or harmful drinking. Multi-substance use is the more common pattern in the general young adult population, however. The authors of this effectiveness trial investigated multi-substance* BI in a Swiss cohort of young adult men undergoing army conscription who voluntarily sought BI, without prior screening. Switzerland has a mandatory 2-day army recruitment conscription process for young men at age 19. During this process, conscripts complete a physical, medical, and cognitive assessment of fitness. Between 2008–2009, all conscripts were invited to a counseling session on tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis. Of 4767 conscripts available to participate in the study, 1052 voluntarily sought BI. Participants were randomized to receive assessment and BI (n=362) versus assessment only (control group, n=461). The authors also tested the incremental benefit of a 3-month booster session in the BI group.
- Although the BI subjects reported nonsignificant reductions in substance use on 10 of 12 measures at 6 months compared with controls, the only significant between-group difference was for cannabis use (from 45% to 39% in the control group versus 46% to 34% in the BI group [p=0.013]).
- There were no differences in outcomes in subjects who received a booster session at 3 months compared with those who did not.
*Alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco.