Most Excessive Drinkers Not Addicted to Alcohol, Report Finds

By Brent McCluskey 11/24/14

Contrary to popular opinion, most people who drink to excess do not meet the criteria for being an alcoholic.

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A new study found that up to 90% of people who drink too much do not meet the criteria for alcoholism.

The report, based on a survey of 138,000 adults conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, concluded that alcohol abusers aren’t necessarily addicted to alcohol. The report found that nine out of 10 heavy drinkers are not alcoholics, and can therefore be more easily treated.

Lead study author Dr. Robert Brewer, who is also the leader of the alcohol program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says identifying these problem drinkers can help with administering the proper treatment.

“Many people tend to equate excessive drinking with alcohol dependence,” said Brewer. “We need to think about other strategies to address these people who are drinking too much but who are not addicted to alcohol.”

So what drives those who are not physically addicted to alcohol to drink excessively? According to Brewer, a lot of it has to do with our society, as well as the environment where people consume alcohol.

“A lot of people have been led to believe that drinking, and often drinking a large amount, is part of having a good time,” said Brewer. “What we need to do is change that environment in which people make their drinking decisions.”

Brewer points out that while drinking to excess is still a problem, it’s not quite as difficult to solve as alcoholism. One solution is to simply change the way we look at alcohol in general.

“I don’t want to minimize the fact that excessive drinking can be a difficult behavior to change even in those people who are not alcohol dependent,” said Brewer. “So many of the cues people get about drinking behavior in our society are confusing. People think drinking to get drunk is part of having a good time.”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.