The efficacy of compliance therapy in pharmacotherapy for alcohol dependence: a randomized controlled trial

Sophie C. Reid, Maree Teesson, Claudia Sannibale, Michiyo Matsuda, Paul S. Haber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of compliance therapy in increasing adherence to pharmacological treatment for alcohol dependence. Method: Forty subjects were randomly allocated to receive usual medical care (n = 20) or usual medical care plus compliance therapy (n = 20). All subjects were prescribed acamprosate (Campral) for 4 months. Subjects were volunteers treated at a hospital-based outpatient drug and alcohol treatment service, and were men and women who were 18-65 years old and with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, diagnosis of alcohol dependence. All subjects received usual medical care consisting of seven medical reviews (duration = 15 minutes) over 4 months. Compliance therapy consisted of four to six individual sessions (duration = 60 minutes) in which beliefs about medication, side effects, ambivalence, the benefits of treatment, treatment maintenance and relapse prevention were addressed and explored with motivational interviewing and cognitive behavior therapy techniques. Results: The outcome variables were number of days taking acamprosate, days to first drink, days to first relapse (more than five drinks) and days to first extended relapse (greater than 2 consecutive days of more than five drinks). Intention-to-treat analyses showed little difference between the two groups in the outcome drinking measures. Nevertheless, the per-protocol analyses revealed that participation in three or more sessions of compliance therapy significantly increased adherence to acamprosate and improved overall treatment outcomes. Conclusions: The present study highlights the need for psychological interventions to improve adherence to pharmacotherapy in the treatment of alcohol dependence and provides initial support for compliance therapy as an effective intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-841
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


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