Many people believe that heavy or problem drinking1 leads 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 participants for a period of 11 years.
Drinking declined on average from four down to two drinks per day among men. It declined from two down to one per day among women. Also, about ten percent became abstainers.
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 obtained from alcoholism treatment. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) reports a success rate of about 5% with its 12 steps. Doing nothing is usually more effective than attending AA. However, non-12-step programs using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy show high rates of bringing about continuing sobriety.
Other Alternatives for Help
Resources: Heavy Drinkers Consume Less Alcohol over Time
- Drink Too Much Alcohol?
- How to Help Someone Who Drinks Too Much Alcohol
- Handbook for Responsible Alcohol Consumption.
- What is Moderate Drinking or Alcohol Consumption?
- Alcohol Abuse.
- The Way to Reduce Alcohol Abuse (It’s Proven Effective).
- We can Reduce Alcohol Abuse! (Discover Exactly How).
- Harm Reduction for Alcohol Abuse.
1. Problem drinking was defined as having at least two of the following.
An alcohol-related negative social consequence.
A symptom of alcohol dependence.
Heavy drinking (5 drinks in a day monthly for men or 3 drinks in a day weekly for women).
2. This is a central belief of AA.
Delucchi, K., and Kaskutas, L. Following problem drinkers over eleven years. J Stud Alco Drugs, 2010, 71(6), 831-836.