A randomized clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of a brief alcohol intervention supplemented with a substance-free activity session or relaxation training.

Objective: Behavioral economic theory suggests that a reduction in alcohol use is most likely when there is an increase in rewarding substance-free activities. Anxiety has also been linked to heavy drinking, and strategies to reduce anxiety may enhance alcohol interventions. The goal of this 2-site randomized controlled clinical trial was to evaluate the efficacy of a brief alcohol intervention that was supplemented with either a behavioral economic substance-free activity session (SFAS) or a relaxation training (Relaxation training [RT]) session. Method: Participants were 393 college students (61% female, mean age = 18.77 years) who reported 2 or more past-month heavy drinking episodes. Participants were randomized to 1 of 3 conditions: (a) assessment; (b) alcohol brief motivational intervention (BMI) plus SFAS; or (c) BMI plus RT. Both treatment conditions included 2 in-person sessions plus a phone booster session. Outcomes were evaluated 1-, 6-, 12-, and 16-months postintervention. Results: Generalized linear mixed models indicated that the combination of a BMI plus either the SFAS or RT was associated with significant reductions in alcohol use and problems across the 16-month follow-up compared with assessment only. There were no significant differences between the two active treatment conditions. Changes in proportional reinforcement from substance-related activities, and protective behavioral strategies mediated treatment effects. Conclusion: Two-session (plus booster) interventions that combine BMI and either substance-free activity enhancement or RT can result in enduring reductions in alcohol misuse among college drinkers. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)