Thomas Brown of McGill University in Montreal and U.S. colleagues found a psychosocial intervention called brief motivational interviewing helped people change harmful drinking patterns.
The researchers followed up after six and 12 months, after dividing 184 recidivists with currently untreated drinking problems into two groups.
The first group -- 86 men and 6 women -- received a brief motivational interviewing session lasting 30 minutes that sought to look at how the study participant's harmful alcohol use was at odds with his or her self-image. The second group -- 79 men and 13 women -- received a 30-minute "control" intervention consisting of general information on the hazards of excessive drinking.
"Our results indicated that, compared to the control procedure, the behavioral motivation interview was superior in reducing by around 30 percent the number of risky drinking days for up to a year after receiving the intervention," Brown said in a statement.
A risky drinking day was one on which the study participant drank enough that he or she would be impaired if they were to drive.
The findings are scheduled to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research in February.