Alcohol Research

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Alcoholism is a prominent substance abuse issue in Western society. The treatment method of controlled drinking as opposed to abstinence is a continuing cause of controversy in alcohol research to this day. The US is different from Europe in its acceptance of controlled drinking as a goal of treatment: “in the US alcohol dependence is typically depicted as a ‘recurring disease’ and the ‘successful abstainer’ as a ‘recovering’ though never ‘recovered’ alcoholic” (Coldwell, 2005). Depending on the alcohol abuse patient’s individual characteristics, either controlled drinking or abstinence is chosen as a treatment.

Alcohol treatment in Canada, however seems to incorporate both mechanisms as shown in the study by Rush and Ogborne (1986).The study states that goals for one third of clients who were non abstinent were accepted depending on whether it was a residential or community-based outpatient service. Other effective methods in treating alcoholism are pharmacotherapy, behavioral method and self help manuals. This paper will discuss different therapeutic interventions while highlighting the controversy between controlled drinking and abstinence.

Alcohol abuse is growing rapidly throughout U.S. society. One in every twelve adults is being diagnosed with alcohol abuse (Barlow and Durand, 2006). All that are diagnosed with alcohol abuse must meet one or more of the following criteria within a twelve month period: he/ she must fail to accomplish major work, school or home responsibilities; he/ she is careless to where his/ her drinking is taking place, even if it’s in dangerous situations such as driving or while operating machinery; he/ she must have recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such as getting arrested for driving...

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...more liberal approach values choice and personal freedoms rather than religious restrictions. Therefore, controlled drinking is a more suitable treatment method for the European way of life.

In terms of gender, abstinence is more recommended for women than for men. Here again we see a difference between the US and the UK – only in the US was abstinence seen as a more ideal goal for women than for men, “only among low severity drinkers” (Milles, 2004).

To conclude, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions in 2001 – 2002 found controlled drinking and abstinence to be fairly equal in application. “Among the 43,000 alcoholics surveyed, nearly 36 percent were in recovery – 18.2 percent were abstainers and 17.7 percent were moderate drinkers” (Wanjek, 2007). The controversy however, remains within each individual’s road to recovery.
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