Blended treatment Alcohol & Depression (BLADE)


Excessive alcohol use and depression often co-occur among young adults. Reducing or stopping alcohol consumption can have a positive effect on both low mood and effects of depression treatment. For these reasons, Arkin developed an online program (Beating the Booze, funded by ZonMw) for depressed young adults who want to reduce or stop drinking alcohol independently.

The online program is followed by the research participant independently and simultaneously with the depression treatment as usual (TAU) and is available both as a (web) app (smartphone) and via the website (computer). The online program is a self-help program and contains a minimum degree of process guidance (from the research team), the practitioner has no extra tasks regarding the online program/research.

Research aim

An RCT will investigate the effectiveness of adding Beating the Booze (BtB) to regular depression treatment (TAU) among young adults (18-35 years) with excessive alcohol consumption and depression.

In total, we included 156 participants in the RCT, half of whom were randomized to the intervention group (TAU + BtB) and the other half to the control group (TAU only). Participants filled out online questionnaire four times: start of treatment, and after 3, 6 and 12 months). Excessive alcohol use was defined in this study as a total AUDIT score of ≥8 (male) or ≥5 (female).

Participants were recruited via PuntP, Arkin Youth (Arkin Jeugd en Gezin), Arkin BGGZ and via social media.

The Intervention: Beating the Booze

The online BtB program is a web app and therefore accessible on all mobile devices (computer, tablet, and smartphone). BtB was developed together with the target group and based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Motivational Interviewing (CBT/MI) and the proven effective and already implemented Jellinek Online Self-Help Alcohol. Input was collected via client focus groups (content, form and layout of BtB). Based on this, the Online Self-Help Alcohol has been adapted and further developed into BtB.

The BtB intervention consists of 6 phases, in which participants can work independently and at their own pace on their personal drinking goal via animation videos and short reading assignments and  exercises. It also contains depression-related exercises (compile personal activity list + daily mood/activity tracking) and experience stories.