A risk I’m not willing to take

I won’t say that there’s no chance of me ever drinking again for a couple of reasons:

First, relapse happens. I pray that it doesn’t happen to me, but I am conscious that it could.

Second, modern science has shown that a majority of heavy drinkers can moderate successfully. I know that goes against the 12-step doctrine, but the doctrine was written nearly 80 years ago — when there wasn’t a great deal of good science on the subject.

Still, I’m not willing to take the risk.  I’ve gained far more than I’ve lost by giving up the booze.

3 responses to “A risk I’m not willing to take”

    • Thanks for asking for the links. I normally do site references but failed to last night and I should have.

      Some of the articles listed below have titles that are intentionally incendiary. I try to look past the incendiary nature of titles and abstracts since they are usually written to grab as many clicks as possible on the web. Sometimes there are good pieces of information in them.

      With that said, here are some of the items that I was thinking about when I wrote, “modern science has shown that a majority of heavy drinkers can moderate successfully.”

      There was an article in the Atlantic in April of 2015 that references a federally funded (NIH/NIAAA) study called National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. A summary of the study’s can be found here.

      “Whereas AA teaches that alcoholism is a progressive disease that follows an inevitable trajectory, data from a federally funded survey called the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions show that nearly one-fifth of those who have had alcohol dependence go on to drink at low-risk levels with no symptoms of abuse. And a recent survey of nearly 140,000 adults by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nine out of 10 heavy drinkers are not dependent on alcohol and, with the help of a medical professional’s brief intervention, can change unhealthy habits.”

      That same study was referenced in a New York Times Article that discussed CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) which is an alternative approach to intervention and treatment:

      “A federally financed study of 43,000 randomly selected Americans, called the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, or Nesarc, found that 75 percent of those who are heavy drinkers eventually regain control without rehab or A.A., Dr. Peele said. The survey, which was conducted in the early 2000s and was designed to be representative of the larger United States population, was aimed at helping researchers understand high-risk drinking patterns, design better-targeted treatment programs and monitor recovery. It found that over half of those who recover managed to cut back instead of abstaining, Dr. Peele said.”

      There is a good article on CRAFT in the Boston Globe from December 2015. I haven’t done a great deal of research into this, but find the following very familiar from my own battle with alcohol.

      CRAFT starts with a provocative premise: Most substance abusers aren’t in denial, but rather are ambivalent and guarded. They know their drug use causes problems, but they don’t want to admit it because doing so risks the loss of all sorts of things: their dignity, possibly their freedom, not to mention access to the benefits of the drug itself.

      In 2013, the APA issued an update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — DSM-5. Prior to DSM-5, the manual categorized problems with alcohol use under the terms “alcohol abuse” and “alcohol dependence.” DSM-5 changes that and now categorizes problems with alcohol use under the term “alcohol use disorder” with three distinct phases. NIH published a comparison between DSM-IV and DSM-5 as it relates to Alcohol Use Disorder.

      Finally, there have been some interesting articles related treatment using a drug called Naltrexone. The drug and it’s effective use in Europe was discussed in detail in the Atlantic article mentioned above and also briefly in this article in the New York Times.

      I am very conscious of the fact that much of AA was based on the practices of Oxford Group and that the science of 1935 was severely lacking. One only has to read the Dr.’s Opinion with its theory of alcoholism as an “allergy” to know that the science was woefully inadequate 80 years ago.

      With all that said, I see AA as one of the tools in my toolbox when it comes to living a better life. I take exception with a great deal in the program but I know that I’m doing so much better as a result of attending meetings. As of this comment I’m over 100 days without a drink and largely happy about that.


      • Way to go, keep it up. I studied all the science as well in early sobriety. I gave up the drink nine years ago. I recognize today that I attend AA, not because I have a drinking problem – which was symptomatic, but because I have a sober problem (life) that the principles of AA address well.

        Liked by 2 people

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