Do people say you have a drinking problem, but you know you’re not an alcoholic? Maybe you are both right. Not everyone engaging in problem drinking is an alcoholic. At the Washton Group, we don’t divide people into “alcoholics” and “not alcoholics”; instead, we recognize that there are many different types of alcohol problems. Our comprehensive evaluation will provide you with an objective assessment of your drinking patterns and your chances of succeeding at moderate drinking.
When given a chance to try moderation with the benefit of professional guidance and support, many clients either learn how to drink moderately while others learn that moderation is not realistic for them and it would be better to stop drinking entirely. Clients who choose abstinence after being unable to consistently moderate their alcohol consumption are often more motivated and personally invested in making abstinence work for them.
What is problem drinking?
Although the terms “problem drinking” and “alcoholism” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Compared to alcoholics, problem drinkers usually have shorter histories of alcohol-related problems, more social and economic stability, and less severe consequences associated with their drinking. Most problem drinkers do not drink every day and have not experienced major losses or other severe consequences related to their problem drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and other public health agencies, there are at least four times as many problem drinkers as alcoholics in this country. However, most alcohol treatment programs are designed for people with the most severe drinking problems. Many individuals with less severe problems avoid seeking help at these programs because they do not want to be labeled as “alcoholics”, attend AA meetings, or accept abstinence as the one and only legitimate goal, especially when giving up drinking forever may not be necessary to resolve their problem.
There is still a great deal of “black and white” thinking about alcohol problems that divides drinkers into only two groups: alcoholics who are seen as constitutionally incapable of controlling their drinking and the rest of the drinking population who can drink socially without losing control. Now we know, however, that anyone who consistently and repeatedly drinks above certain limits is at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems. We also know that there is a broad spectrum of alcohol problems that can vary in severity along a continuum ranging from mild to moderate to severe. In other words, not everyone with an alcohol problem is an alcoholic. In fact, the term “alcoholism” was officially removed as a medical diagnosis in 1979 and replaced by the broader category of “alcohol use disorders” that includes alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
If you are unsure about how serious your drinking problem is and what treatment options would be appropriate then contact the Washton Group. You can call or fill out the contact form.