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Quitting alcohol is easier than reducing consumption

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Glasses of wine. With an alcohol volume between 5-21%, most wines are more alcoholic than your average beer.

Glasses of wine. With an alcohol volume between 5-21%, most wines are more alcoholic than your average beer.

People battling with alcohol dependence have a better chance of kicking the habit if their treatment regimen focuses on total abstinence from alcohol, rather than moderating consumption, according to a recently published study by a Swedish university.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg arrived at this conclusion after observing 201 adults suffering from alcohol dependence over a 2½ year period from the time they started their treatment, this period being a smaller timeframe within the much longer Gothenburg Alcohol Research Project.

At the end of this period, 90% of those who had signed up for a treatment plan with the intention of completely abstaining from alcohol remained sober, while among those who had opted to moderate their drink, only 50% had managed to stay sober.

The study also sought to determine whether having a common goal between the patient and his/her treatment provider would swing the outcome, but found that, whether or not the two had a shared philosophy on managing alcohol dependence, it was easier to quit alcohol in totality than reduce the amount consumed.

“Our study shows that, regardless of agreement on goals and methods, in the end it is more difficult to stick to controlled drinking than to give it up entirely,” said Associate Prof. Kristina Berglund.

The findings seem to resonate with findings concerning another addiction, smoking.

Recent studies on smoking strongly suggest that quitting smoking abruptly has a higher chance of keeping the former smoker from cigarettes than gradually winding down the cigarettes smoked regularly.

But, noted in this study on smoking, is the reality that not everyone can just up and abruptly quit an addiction, which probably holds for those battling alcohol dependency too.

That said, the global burden of alcohol dependence is massive, as it’s the leading risk factor in disability and premature death among the 15-49 demographic.