Mental Health Practitioner Approaches to Treating Harmful and Substance Dependent Alcohol Use
Leanora Barreca, Student, School of Psychology; Malena Castillo, Student, School of Psychology; Chad Brownfield, Student, School of Psychology
Members of the Addictions Study Group under the supervision of Marilyn Freimuth Ph.D. designed an exploratory study in mental health providers’ assessment of addictions. The aim of the study was to identify the various factors that contribute to providers’ ability to accurately identify the severity of alcohol abuse and treatment plan when misuse is evident. Participants were mental health providers (N=120) who were asked to complete a questionnaire that included demographic and background information in addition to providing clinical responses to two vignettes. Vignettes depicted examples of both harmful drinking (HD) and symptoms of substance dependent (SD) alcohol use. The participants decision of whether to engage the individual in the vignette in treatment and if so what the goals of the treatment would be were analyzed. Results showed that participants elected to engage both the HD and SD individual in treatment at similar rates, 64% and 72% respectively. Participants selected recommended treatment goals 26% of the time for HD and at 34% for SD use. While a large portion of participants selected recommended treatment goals for both HD and SD use, there were still several participants who did not. Results lead to further questions about accurate assessment and treatment of substance use disorders. Implications for further research, training, and practice are discussed.