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Problem Drinker

Not Everyone Needs Help to Quit

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Updated June 20, 2014

How to tell if you need help quitting drinking
Josie Elias Collection/Photodisc/Getty Images
Many people who have a problem with alcohol are not alcoholics, and in order to quit drinking they do not necessarily need medical treatment, peer group support, or a spiritual awakening.

In fact, most of the people who decided to stop drinking --for whatever reason -- do so without any outside help. They simply make up their minds to stop or modify their drinking patterns. Many one-time heavy drinkers merely "grow up" and change their behaviors. Others may have a particularly embarassing or frightening experience and swear off.

A survey by the University of Toronto revealed that more than 70 percent of recovered problem drinkers said they overcame their alcohol troubles without formal treatment. A similar study in the United States by Psychiatrist George Vaillant, at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts, reported that of those who either quit or cut back drinking, 75 percent did so without benefit of treatment or A.A.

These findings are consistent with published studies on the About.com Smoking Cessation Site, which indicate that 80 to 90 percent of successful quitters give up cigarettes without professional help.

In other words, if you have a drinking problem, there is a chance that you can do something about it without expensive medical help and without attending any meetings.

Even those drinkers who have become chemically dependent upon alcohol -- daily drinkers -- may not actually be suffering from the disease of alcoholism, according to these studies. Such a drinker may need initial medical assistant to get through the detoxification period, but may be able to remain sober after detox without further assistance.

Willpower

If you think that you are one of those drinkers, and you would sincerely like to cut back or quit drinking, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has some tools that might be helpful.

That site has a questionnaire that may be used to determine if you are drinking too much, reasons that you should cut down, a tool for setting personal goals, and a sample "drinking diary" to help compare your actually drinking to your goal.

It also contains tips to help you meet your goal, such as watching how much alcohol you keep around the house, learning to drink slowly, taking a break from alcohol at certain times, and just simply learning how to say no when drinking opportunities arise.

Powerless

For those who are in fact alcoholics, who actually have the disease, all the willpower and self resolve in the world will not help. These drinkers find themselves powerless to stop or control their drinking without help.

Those who have tried repeatedly to curtail or quit drinking and found that they simply cannot, will surely require outside help to do so -- either from the treatment center industry or from a self-help program of recovery, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

And for the families of those who have a drinking problem, support is available, regardless of whether the drinker is an alcoholic or just a problem drinker. If someone else's drinking is a problem for you, there are resources available to help you find your own peace.

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