Brief Motivational Intervention for Underage Young Adult Drinkers: Results from a Randomized Clinical Trial


Background: While there is a substantial literature on the efficacy of brief motivational intervention (BMI) for college student drinkers, research has focused less on young adults who do not attend a 4-year college, despite their elevated risk for excessive alcohol use and associated harmful consequences. Methods: This randomized controlled trial (NCT01546025) compared the efficacy of BMI to a time-matched attention control intervention (relaxation training [REL]) for reducing alcohol consumption and related negative consequences in an underage young adult sample. BMI was tailored to the developmental transition out of high school for young adults who were not immediately planning to enroll in a 4-year college. Non–treatment-seeking underage drinkers who reported past-month heavy drinking (N = 167; ages 17 to 20; 42% female; 59% non-Hispanic White) were randomly assigned to receive a single session of BMI or REL. Outcomes were evaluated 6 weeks and 3 months postintervention via in-person assessments. Results: Generalized estimating equation models provided strong support for the efficacy of BMI for reducing harmful drinking in these young adults. Compared to REL, and after controlling for baseline covariates including gender, those who received BMI subsequently reported significantly fewer average drinks per week, percent drinking days, percent heavy drinking days, lower peak and typical estimated blood alcohol concentration on drinking days, and fewer adverse consequences of drinking (all ps < 0.05). These between-group effects did not weaken over the course of the 3-month follow-up period. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate an efficacious approach to tailoring BMI for non–college-attending young adults. Future research should replicate and extend these findings over a longer follow-up period.

Publication Title

Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research