Background: The knowledge of the motivations underlying treatment seeking is essential for the development of campaigns and evidence-based treatment strategies. This study aimed to estimate the rate of alcohol treatment use among Brazilians with alcohol disorders. We also investigated factors associated with willingness to stop drinking and motivation to engage into treatment programs.
Method: This is a cross-sectional study using data from the first Brazilian National Alcohol Survey. A subsample of 1590 alcohol users was selected from the original survey, which interviewed 3007 individuals from the Brazilian household population. Prevalence of alcohol disorders and treatment factors were estimated. Mutually adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were calculated using the appropriate STATA survey commands. These odds ratios estimate the associations between sociodemographic characteristics and selected alcohol-related problems.
Results: Alcohol abuse and/or dependence was identified in 19.2% of the subsample of alcohol users. Nearly half of the participants with alcohol problems were not willing to stop drinking. Less than 10% of the participants with alcohol abuse/dependence that reported willingness to stop drinking have ever treated their alcohol problem, and AA meetings and specialized clinics were the most common treatment options mentioned. Willingness to quit drinking was positively associated with being male, participants who reported the negative impacts of alcohol and psychological problems caused by alcohol. Being advised to stop drinking by a doctor was also significantly associated with willingness to quit. Engagement into treatment was associated with self-reported physical problems, psychological problems, and with being advised to quit by a doctor.
Conclusions: This study found very low rates of treatment engagement among participants with alcohol disorders. Our results should help develop treatment strategies more in tune with patients’ motivations to change. There is an urgent need to implement alcohol brief interventions in primary care in Brazil.