Dr. Stanam Singh Atwal

If you think that you have alcohol problem, then the only feasible cure for your problem is total abstinence i.e. completely staying away from drinking. There should be no place for such words like, “Just social drinking” or “mode Tate drinking” in the dictionary of your mind. These are some of the facts replicated in a recent study conducted at Washington Univ. School of Medicine at St. Louis, Missouni, by Dr, John Hartzel and his associates.

Previous studies favored the idea that alcoholics can return to “normal (social) drinking” with the help of various therapeutic interventions. Research conducted 20 years ago at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, California, was specially designed to prove that alcoholics particularly younger men who are not severely dependent upon alcohol can return to moderate drinking with no greater chance of relapse than if they obtain completely.

However results of a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found moderate or social drinking to be “extremely rare” among reformed alcoholics (who were treated for alcoholism). They estimated that only 2% of more than 1200 reformed alcoholics were moderate drinkers, 5 to 8 years after their alcohol related hospitalization. Another 5% of them altered between moderate drinking to abstinence.

The research went on to say that two thirds of the reformed alcoholics remained alcoholics and “15% had become totally abstinent.” The data’s highlights the idea that it is extremely hard for onetime alcoholics to become social drinkers. The prognosis is relatively much better if an alcoholic selects to be completely abstinent rather than moderate drinkers.

Dr. Hartzell and his associates further went on to say that setting clear attainable goals for alcoholics is essential, given the prevalence of alcoholism in United States. Treatment of alcoholism probably has “a greater potential impact on society” than treatment of any other psychiatric disorder, the researchers said in their latest article.

There were few other factors also that predicted whether alcoholic patients were able to drink regularly but not excessively and to avoid any new alcohol related social, medical or legal problem.

*Sex: Moderate drinking is noted to be four times common among women than among men.

*Duration of alcoholism: Pts. with shortest history of the problem are more likely to revert back to moderate drinking.

*Severity of alcoholism as measured by various drinking landmarks and number of lifetime drinking symptoms: More severe the problem the less are the chances to revert back to social drinking.

It is worth mentioning here that in their study the investigators considered moderate or social drinkers to be people who had some drinking in at least 30 of the previous 30 months but had not drunk excessively or had any social, medical or legal problems as a result of drinking alcohol.

Article extracted from this publication >>  November 22, 1985