Heavy Drinkers Found to Consume Less Alcohol over Time

It is often thought that heavy or problem drinking1 leads to alcoholism or alcohol dependence. This hypothesis was tested by conducting in-person interviews with 672 people in northern California who were identified as problem drinkers through random-digit-dial telephone screening.

The mean age of the sample was 35 years, 61% were male, 71% were white, and 40% were married. Participants were followed for a period of seven years.

Drinking declined on average from four down to two drinks per day among men and from two down to one per day among women. About ten percent became abstainers.

Being part of a network of heavy drinkers, receiving suggestions to get help for their drinking, or going into treatment for alcoholism were associated with an increase in alcohol consumption.

The poor results obtained from alcoholism treatment have been widely documented. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous reports a success rate of about 5%. However, a non-treatment program using Cognitive Behavioral Education has demonstrated an independently-verified 61% rate of bringing about continuing sobriety.

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Notes

  • 1. Problem drinking was defined as exhibiting at least two of the following: an alcohol-related social consequence, a symptom of alcohol dependence, or heavy drinking (5 drinks in a day monthly for men or 3 drinks in a day weekly for women).

Resource

  • Delucchi, K.L., and Kaskutas, L.A. Following problem drinkers over eleven years: Understanding changes in alcohol consumption. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2010, 71(6), 831-836.

filed under: Alcohol Abuse

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