Not every incident of a person drinking too much is indicative of alcoholism. There are times when people cope with stressful situations by drinking too much, yet they do not develop a full-blown addiction to alcohol

Yet, “drinking too much” is still problematic, particularly in certain situations, such as before getting behind the wheel, or while pregnant or breastfeeding. Alcohol rehab may or may not be the right solution for the person who is over-drinking, yet who has not developed serious alcohol dependency.

In some cases, the so-called brief intervention, followed by a period of constructive self-care can halt alcohol addiction before it has a chance to gain traction. When this happens, alcohol rehab can be avoided. however, it is important to know what treatment resources are available because there is often a very fine line between problematic drinking and alcohol addiction.

Healthcare Providers and the “Brief Intervention”

Healthcare providers often find themselves in the right scenario to conduct a brief audit of a patient’s alcohol use and to learn more for medical purposes while prompting the patient to reconsider his or her own drinking habits. For example, the doctor caring for a pregnant woman may need to learn about patient drinking habits, or the ER doctor treating someone for an alcohol-related injury may engage in a brief intervention to determine if the patient suffers from alcohol addiction or has just engaged in isolated excessive drinking. 

For the people who are already wondering whether they are drinking too much, such an intervention in a healthcare context can be sufficient to prompt self-examination and lifestyle changes. Follow-up can help determine if the problem was isolated, or whether addiction is indeed present.

Gauging Whether Drinking Is Becoming Problematic

The brief intervention in the healthcare setting consists of three questions. The first one is, simply, a version of “Do you drink alcohol?” If the answer is “No,” then the provider usually asks the reason for that person’s abstinence, whether it is for religious or cultural reasons, or perhaps because he or she is in recovery from a previous addiction.

Alcohol rehab

If the person answers “Yes,” the subsequent questions are:

  • How many days out of the week do you drink?
  • When drinking, how many drinks do you typically have?

Guidelines for low-risk drinking are 10 drinks per week, with no more than two per day on most occasions for women, and 15 drinks per week, with no more than three per day on most occasions for men. Low-risk drinking also includes the use of common sense, such as not drinking before driving, going to work, or operating power tools. 

Follow-Up and Effectiveness

When a person’s drinking exceeds low-risk drinking guidelines, a healthcare professional can refer a patient to community resources, including treatment resources. Analyses of the effectiveness of brief interventions have shown that they are effective in reducing weekly alcohol consumption in the person who is perhaps drinking too much, but who has not developed an alcohol addiction. For people who have already developed alcohol addiction, the brief intervention is not effective, and alcohol rehab is needed for recovery.

For non-addicts who have engaged in excessive drinking, the overall conversational context of the dangers of over-drinking with a healthcare professional appears to be the key to curbing risky alcohol intake before an addiction can develop. 

When the Brief Intervention Is Not Enough

Sometimes the brief intervention by the healthcare professional is not enough to prompt a person to curb his or her drinking. In these cases, alcohol addiction can develop, and comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment is in order. Fortunately, personalized alcohol rehab is effective in promoting recovery from alcohol addiction. 

Are you, or someone you care about, showing symptoms of alcohol addiction? If so, you need not be afraid of learning more about alcohol rehab. We encourage you to contact us at any time. Identifying the disease is the first step toward recovery, and we are happy to talk to you about your treatment options.

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Stopping Alcohol Use Disorder Before It Starts was last modified: February 1st, 2018 by The Recovery Village