Many people believe that heavy or problem drinking1leads to alcoholism. Or alcohol dependence.2 Researchers tested this idea. They found that most heavy drinkers consume less alcohol over time.
The mean age of the sample was 35 years, 61% were male, 71% were white. And 40% were married. Researchers followed the sample 11 years.
Drinking declined on average from four down to two drinks per day for men. It declined from two down to one per day for women. Also, about 10% became non-drinkers.
But Some Increased Their Drinking
Any of the following were associated with an increase in alcohol consumption.
- Being part of a group of heavy drinkers.
- Receiving suggestions to get help for their drinking.
- Getting treatment for alcoholism.
Research has widely shown the poor results generally from alcoholism treatment. For instance, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) reports a success rate of about 5% with its 12 steps. Doing nothing is usually more effective than attending AA. But Cognitive Behavioral Therapy shows high rates of bringing about continuing sobriety.
Other Alternatives for Help
Resources: Heavy Drinkers Consume Less Alcohol over Time
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Alcoholism.
- Non-12-Step Programs.
- Drink Too Much Alcohol?
- How to Help Someone Who Drinks Too Much.
- What is Moderate Drinking?
- Alcohol Abuse.
- The Way to Reduce Alcohol Abuse.
- We can Reduce Alcohol Abuse!
- Harm Reduction for Alcohol Abuse.
- Cognitive Behavioral Education & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Delucchi, K., Following problem drinkers over eleven years. J Stud Alco Drugs, 71(6), 831-36.
1. Problem drinking was defined as having at least two of these.
- An alcohol-related negative social consequence.
- A symptom of alcohol dependence.
- Heavy drinking (5 drinks daily for men. Or 3 drinks daily for women).
2. This is a central belief of AA.
- This site gives no advice. That includes the finding that most heavy drinkers consume less over time.