The Past and Future of Research on Treatment of Alcohol Dependence

Willenbring, Mark L.
June 2010
Alcohol Research & Health;2010, Vol. 33 Issue 1/2, p55
Academic Journal
Research on the treatment of alcoholism has gained significant ground over the past 40 years. Studies such as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's Project MATCH, which examined the prospect of tailoring treatments for particular people to better suit their needs, and Project COMBINE, which examined in-depth, cognitive-behavioral therapy and medical management, helped pave the way for a new way of approaching alcoholism treatment. New findings garnered through the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions further defined the problem. At the heart of this research has been the development of procedures to characterize, measure, and monitor the fidelity to a particular conceptual psychotherapeutic approach so that clear comparisons can be made between conceptually and technically distinct approaches. Advances in scientific methodology and statistics have provided tools to analyze complex datasets. The resulting findings mark an improvement over the first models of treatment developed decades ago, which tended to focus on anecdotal findings and assumptions. This hard-earned progress has enabled scientists today to move ahead and address the next set of challenges. Future research, coupled with a restructured treatment system capable of making new scientific findings rapidly available to the community, hold the key to significantly improving treatment outcomes and reducing suffering from alcohol-related disorders.


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