Burlington, Wis. – Nine out of 10 adults who drink too much alcohol are not alcoholics, according to a Nov. 20 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ). The study, released in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease , confirms the distinction between managing a chronic disease like alcoholism , and counseling a person who just drinks excessively.
The CDC said excessive drinking includes binge drinking . A binge is four or more drinks on one occasion for a woman and five or more drinks on one occasion for a man, while a per-week consumption of eight or more for a woman, 15 or more for a man, is considered excessive by the CDC.
Just because an excessive drinker doesn't have the disease of alcoholism doesn't mean he or she is out of the woods. Alcohol use has been linked to increased risk of more than 60 diseases and alcohol is a known carcinogen. The higher the use, the higher the disease risk increases.
Much of what is known about the disease of alcoholism connects it to flaws in genes which control metabolism of alcohol as well as the brain's risk/reward biochemistry.
“The incentive for an alcoholic to keep drinking is the physical dependence on the alcohol itself,” according to recovery author Scott Stevens. “The incentive for a non-alcoholic to keep drinking excessively is a psychological quasi-dependence on the good times and/or good feelings. The two types of drinkers require two different treatment approaches, not a one-size-fits-all program.”
As noted in Stevens' 2012 alcoholism recovery book Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud , “An alcohol abuser can quit but won't. An alcoholic wants to quit but can't...on his own.” A chart showing the distinction appears in the book and its predecessor on treatment vs. mistreatment, What the Early Worm Gets