New Evidence On Alcohol Treatment

Professor Gerhard Gmel, a world leading expert on alcohol problems, and a newly appointed Visiting Professor at the University of the West of England, will give a free public lecture on Monday 2 November 2009 on: ‘The Impact of Brief Treatments for Problem Drinkers’.

The lecture will take place in Room 1F11, Glenside Campus, Blackberry Hill, Bristol BS16 1DD at 19.00.

Professor Gmel is Senior Scientist and Head of the Department of Statistics and Epidemiology at the Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and other Drug Problems based in Lausanne. He has an impressive record of scientific achievement and played a major role in producing the World Health Organisation’s calculations of the burden of disease related to alcohol. He has produced over 300 scientific publications and is widely respected within the field of alcohol and drug research.

Professor Gmel is a leading investigator and analyst for a number of major international comparative studies in which UWE’s Alcohol and Health Research Unit is also participating. These include studies of teenage drinking, smoking and drug use across Europe and a worldwide study of gender, culture and alcohol use.

The lecture on 2 November will review evidence of the impact on health of ‘brief alcohol interventions’ (BAIs) for problem drinkers. These interventions are shorter, less intensive and cheaper than some alternative approaches to the treatment of problems drinking/alcohol dependence. They have been examined under controlled but artificial research conditions.

Professor Gmel commented: “We need to know how it works in normal practice. We have had enough trials, but can BAIs enhance health and wellbeing in the real world?”

In particular Professor Gmel will consider:

•Do BAIs work in all situations and for all kinds of people (such as young adults and “alcoholics”?

•How long do their effects last?

•Is there any evidence that BAIs are effective in relation to all types of drinking patterns, including ‘binge’ drinking?

In addition to reviewing these issues, Professor Gmel will describe the latest results of his own clinical research to analyse client-therapist interactions regarding styles of Minimal Interventions (MI). He will clarify what it is that ‘really works’ – Is it the MI style or components of it or just the therapist’s overall characteristics and style?

Moira Plant, Professor of Alcohol Studies at UWE commented, “The United Kingdom is experiencing an epidemic of alcohol problems. These affect millions of people and ruin many lives. No country has all the answers to how best to help people who have serious alcohol problems. Professor Gmel’s lecture will provide a rare opportunity to hear a world expert share his experience on an important (and relatively inexpensive) approach to helping people whose drinking is damaging their lives as well as those of their relatives and friends.”

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