How do we make the distinction between alcohol abuse and alcoholism?
Professor George Vaillant of Harvard felt obliged to study that question, an inclination that resulted in his 1983 landmark work, The Natural History of Alcoholism, revised in 1995.
Dr. Vaillant was the motive force behind the Harvard Medical School’s Study of Adult Development, which began in 1940.
So what did George Vaillant discover in the longest formal study of drinking behavior ever undertaken in the United States?
One of the first observations Vaillant drove home was that the amount of alcohol consumed is NOT a reliable indicator of alcoholism. Not only is “amount of alcohol ingested” an unreliable predictor of alcoholic drinking—so is “frequency of intoxication.” Both attributes, Vaillant found, proved to be very poor “discriminators” when it came to distinguishing alcoholics from “problem” drinkers.
So, if how much you drink, and how often you drink, are not reliably predictive of alcoholism, what, IS a reasonable predictor?
The key item on Vaillant’s questionnaires turned out to be: “Admits problem controlling alcohol use.” Or, Loss of Control.
Vaillant showed that “multiple alcohol-related problems result not from ingesting large amounts of alcohol but from being unable consistently to control when, where, and how much alcohol is consumed.”
Alcoholism, Vaillant concluded, is “defined by the number, not by the specificity, of alcohol-related problems.”
Full story at; Defining Alcoholism
None of this is new to recovering alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous. They recognise that they have lost control of their drinking and cannot guarantee their behaviour once they start drinking.
- Alcoholic Insanity
- Brief-TSF can assist patients cease alcohol consumption.