Expressive writing as a brief intervention for reducing drinking intentions



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Addictive Behaviors


The present study examined the effectiveness of expressive writing in reducing drinking behavior. We expected that students prompted to write about negative drinking experiences would show greater decreases in future drinking intentions compared to the neutral and the positive writing conditions. We also expected that decreases in drinking intentions following the writing prompts might differ based on current drinking and AUDIT scores. Participants included 200 (76% female) undergraduates who completed measures of their current drinking behavior. They were then randomly assigned to either write about: a time when they had a lot to drink that was a good time (Positive); a time when they had a lot to drink that was a bad time (Negative); or their first day of college (Neutral), followed by measures assessing intended drinking over the next three months. Results revealed that participants intended to drink significantly fewer drinks per week and engage in marginally fewer heavy drinking occasions after writing about a negative drinking occasion when compared to control. Interactions provided mixed findings suggesting that writing about a positive event was associated with higher drinking intentions for heavier drinkers. Writing about a negative event was associated with higher intentions among heavier drinkers, but lower intentions among those with higher AUDIT scores. This research builds on previous expressive writing interventions by applying this technique to undergraduate drinkers. Preliminary results provide some support for this innovative strategy but also suggest the need for further refinement, especially with heavier drinkers.



Alcohol, Narrative, College


Copyright 2013 Addictive Behaviors. This is a post-print version of a published paper that is available at: Recommended citation: Young, Chelsie M., Lindsey M. Rodriguez, and Clayton Neighbors. "Expressive Writing as a Brief Intervention for Reducing Drinking Intentions." Addictive Behaviors 38, no. 12 (2013): 2913-2917. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.08.025. This item has been deposited in accordance with publisher copyright and licensing terms and with the author’s permission.