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Natural processes of change have been documented in treatment-seekers who begin to reduce their drinking in anticipation of treatment. The study examined whether non-treatment-seeking problem drinkers would engage in drinking reduction in anticipation of participating in a research study. Non-treatment-seeking problem drinkers (n = 935) were culled from five behavioral pharmacology studies. Participants reported on their alcohol use during the past 30 days using the Timeline Followback. Cluster analysis identified distinct groups/clusters based on drinking patterns over the 30-day pre-visit period. The identified clusters were compared on demographic and clinical measures. Three distinct clusters were identified (a) heavy-decreasing drinking group (n = 255, 27.27%); (b) a moderate-stable drinking group (n = 353, 37.75%) and (c) low-stable drinking group (n = 327, 34.97%). The three clusters differed significantly on a host of measures including pre-visit drinking (age at first drink, drinking days, drinks per week, drinks per drinking day), alcohol use severity, alcohol craving, readiness for change, depression and anxiety levels. These differences were alcohol dose-dependent such that the heavier drinking group reported the highest levels on all constructs, followed by the moderate group, and the low drinking group last. Baseline drinking patterns of non-treatment-seekers were generally stable and pre-visit reductions were only observed among the heavy drinking group. This generally stable pattern stands in contrast to previous reports for treatment-seeking samples. Nevertheless, the heavier drinking group, which is most similar to treatment-seekers, displayed pre-study drinking reduction. Overall, naturalistic processes of change may pose less of a threat to randomization and testing in this population. © The Author(s) 2020. Medical Council on Alcohol and Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


Wave-Ananda Baskerville, Steven J Nieto, Diana Ho, Brandon Towns, Erica N Grodin, Caesar Li, Elizabeth Burnette, Suzanna Donato, Lara A Ray. Baseline Drinking Patterns in Non-Treatment Seeking Problem Drinkers. Alcohol and alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire). 2021 Jan 04;56(1):57-63

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PMID: 33016306

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