A report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, showed that most US adults who indulge in heavy drinking are not alcoholics. In fact the report stated that only 10% of all the heavy drinkers can be termed as alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
The CDC report, which was authored by Robert Brewer took into consideration the data from 138,100 American adults between 2009 and 2011. It trampled upon the age old belief that ‘every falling drunk is alcoholic’. The study actually revealed that 9 out of 10 people who drank heavily are no addicts and can change their behavior with little persuasion.
Dr Bewer who leads the alcohol program at CDC disclosed, “Many people tend to equate excessive drinking with alcohol dependence. We need to think about other strategies to address these people who are drinking too much but who are not addicted to alcohol.”
Excessive drinking was seen differently by men and women. While men deemed having five or more drinks in one sitting or 15 drinks or more during a week as excessive; women said that it was four drinks on one occasion or eight drinks over the course of a week. In the report, underage drinkers and pregnant drinkers were deemed as excessive drinkers, irrespective of the amount of alcohol they consumed.
Even though excessive drinking is seen as a major public health problem, causing 80,000 deaths a year, the report showed that over 90% of the heavy drinkers can be easily persuaded to cut down or give up drinking. This can be brought out through awareness and or even raising the prices of liquor – study showed that a 10% rise in alcohol prices caused 7% reduction in consumption. Adding tougher laws or counseling by physicians can also help people to reduce their alcohol consumption.
It is more difficult to get alcoholics to cut down on drinks, but this new study gives hope for measures to reduce the drinking culture amongst heavy drinkers who are not addicts.
Dr Brewer added, “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. Excessive drinking is still a problem, but not as difficult as dealing with addiction.”