Mailing Self-Help Pamphlet to Drinkers Reduces Heavy Drinking and Alcohol Abuse

Mailing a simple information pamphlet to interested drinkers can reduce heavy drinking by 10%, according to a study by researchers at the University of Alberta.

The highly rigorous study, conducted in cooperation with the University of Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, involved interviewing a stratified random sample of 10,014 Canadians age 18 and older. Drinkers interested in receiving alcohol self-help materials were randomly assigned to receive brief personalized feedback on general population drinking behaviors or to a control group. Among problem drinkers the intervention caused a 10.1% reduction in per-occasion binge drinking six months later compared to controls.

This technique is another application of the highly effective social norms marketing approach to reducing alcohol problems. Drinkers see how their drinking compares to actual population norms and this can motivate them to reduce their own consumption.

The investigators conclude that alcohol problems can be reduced by providing brief mailed intervention to interested drinkers in the general population.


  • Wild, T. Cameron, Cunningham, John A., and Roberts, Amanda B. Controlled study of brief personalized assessment feedback for drinkers interested in self-help. Addiction, 2006, 102, 241-250.

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