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The relationship of change in drinking behaviour to change in other areas of behaviour in a sample of alcoholic patients. Clarke, Garfield Grant


The Alcoholism Foundation of British Columbia bases its treatment programme on the belief that the abnormal drinking behavior of an alcoholic is importantly related to his functioning in other aspects of life. The research reported here is an attempt to establish empirically whether in fact a relationship exists between change in drinking behaviour and change in other behaviour of a sample of alcoholic patients. The data were gathered as part of a project designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment programme of the Alcoholism Foundation. This project involved the interviewing of a sample of persons who had once visited the Foundation, one group of which had continued in treatment and one group of which had not continued beyond initial interviews, in order to compare the pre- and post-treatment behaviour of these two groups. It was found that there was a greater percentage of persons improved in the treatment group, and a portion of this improvement was attributed to treatment at the Foundation. It was also found that "treatment" received from Alcoholics Anonymous accounted in part for the difference seen. A number of indices of change in various areas of life (health, work, family responsibility, financial responsibility, and leisure time activities) were cross-tabulated with an index of change in drinking behaviour, and it was found that improvement in drinking behaviour tended to be associated with improvement in other areas of behaviour. Experimental and control groups were then compared to ascertain whether treatment had a discernable effect on this relationship, and it was found that treatment at the Foundation increased the likelihood of changes in drinking behaviour being accompanied by corresponding changes in other areas of behaviour. It was also shown that "treatment" received from Alcoholics Anonymous had a similar effect on the relationship.

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