Reduced drinking and harm reduction in the treatment of alcohol use disorders

Gallus Bischof*, Nikolaus Lange, Hans Juergen Rumpf, Ulrich W. Preuss

*Corresponding author for this work


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of the scientific evidence for reduced drinking in alcohol use disorders. While the aim of alcohol use disorders (AUD) treatment usually focuses on abstinence, only a minority of individuals with AUD enter treatment. Lack of alternative treatment goals, including reduced drinking instead of abstinence, have been identified as a potential barrier for treatment entry. Epidemiological and treatment outcome studies reveal that a large proportion of individuals with AUD are able to substantially reduce their alcohol intake for a prolonged duration of time. Design/methodology/approach: A narrative review of the literature on prevalence rates and health effects as well as evidence-based approaches fostering reduced drinking in individuals with AUD is presented. Findings: Reduced drinking is associated with improvements in both morbidity and mortality. Research has identified evidence-based psychosocial and pharmacological treatment approaches; however, implementation is still scarce. Originality/value: Target groups for interventions fostering drinking reduction instead of abstinence are defined and desiderata for further research are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrugs and Alcohol Today
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)31-44
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 31.12.2020

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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