Problem drinkers can help selves


Many people with moderate alcohol abuse problems recover on their own, new studies suggest.

The studies, in Friday's issue of the American Journal of Public Health, add to a growing body of research into how people successfully battle alcohol addiction.

Problem drinkers aren't necessarily those who are severely dependent on alcohol, the research points out. Moderate abusers are responsible for most of society's abuse-related costs - drunken driving, missed work days or spouse abuse.

Scientists estimate the ratio of moderate abusers to severe abusers is 4 to 1.

The studies found:

- About 77 per cent of Canadians who recovered from an alcohol problem for a year or more did so without formal help or treatment.

This study was based on two surveys involving 12,000 people.

Problem drinkers in the surveys, 38 per cent in one survey and 63 per cent in the other, said they had resumed moderate social drinking after resolving their abuse problems.

- Five minutes of advice about alcohol abuse is as effective as 20 minutes of counseling in reducing consumption among men and women at high risk for alcohol problems.

This study was conducted by the World Health Organization in eight countries, including the United States.