Understanding and Combating Alcohol Addiction: A Resource Guide

The prevalence and dangers of alcohol abuse in Western society are well-known. The following resource guide is an overview of the information currently in the public domain about alcohol use and abuse. It offers general information about alcohol abuse, an introduction to the range of strategies that can be employed to prevent alcohol use disorder, and resources for high-risk groups.

Resources for Assessing Alcohol Abuse Risk

  • The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) is a primary source for information about all aspects of alcohol-related issues. While its pocket guide was originally created for professional counselors and doctors, it can be a useful tool for individuals interested in assessing their risk of alcohol abuse or learning more about ways to control alcohol consumption.
  • Nova Southeastern University in Florida offers a quick risk assessment in the form of ten questions that can be completed in a couple of minutes. It uses the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to produce a score from 1 to 40. A different approach is taken by the Michigan Alcohol Screen Test (MAST), which includes 24 questions concentrating on the effects of alcohol, rather than the quantity regularly consumed.
  • Each country has its own way of measuring safe limits for alcohol consumption. The American system is “standard drinks,” which some people find harder to calculate than the European system of “units.”
  • Alcohol is regarded as destructive not only for its immediate effects but also because of its interaction with a large number of other chronic diseases.
  • A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health evaluates the claim that moderate drinking is actually good for health. It weighs the pros and cons for different groups of people and discusses what constitutes “moderation.”

Resources for Self-Help Approaches

Those who think they are at some risk of developing a problem with alcohol may benefit from a self-help program.

  • Rethinking Drinking: The NIAAA site has a good resource for getting a grip on a drinking habit. Finding alternatives and an awareness of triggers are the starting points.
  • Stop Drinking Alcohol: This website adopts a variety of approaches to controlling alcohol consumption. It offers a guide to motivation, a set of three key principles, and a ten-step guide to quitting, as well as links to online support groups.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA is the most well-known of the group support approaches to combating alcoholism. Many people have achieved a lifetime of sobriety as a result of the program.
  • Pro Talk: This page surveys the alternatives to AA for those seeking a group-based therapy. These include the Association of Recovery Community Organizations, Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety. Some use variations of the 12-step program, while others take different approaches.
  • Healthline: Here you can find a roundup of recommended apps to aid those who are looking for a way out of alcohol dependency. There are various approaches, from a simple calculator of consumption to a 12-Steps AA companion.
Understanding and Combating Alcohol Addiction: A Resource Guide

Resources for Professional Intervention

Not everyone chooses to go down the self-help route for controlling alcohol, and for many, it’s almost impossible. Seeking professional help is, for many people, the best approach.

  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): NICE is the British government’s body for overseeing all aspects of public health care. This page is directed primarily at providers, but it gives a thorough overview of the options that are open to professionals and the standards of care that should be expected.
  • NHS Guidance: Another British National Health Service site, this page provides a good summary of the alcohol abuse treatments available, from medication to talking therapies, and also gives a brief description of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Professional Help Options: This NIAAA site considers the options for professional help, conveniently listing the approved medications and the different types of counseling therapies. It also stresses the importance of involving primary care professionals in the process.
  • Medication: Look here for a brief introduction to the research on the various drugs that are used to treat alcohol addiction.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: This page has links to informative guides that discuss commonly used behavioral approaches to addiction treatment. Each section has a summary of the research involved.
  • American Psychological Association: This site has an introduction to the subject of alcohol addiction from a psychologist’s point of view, as well as a brief description of available therapies.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine: The library contains a number of research papers on alcohol and other addictions, including an in-depth review of the treatments available.

Resources for Young Addicts

Although there is hopeful evidence that alcohol abuse by young people is decreasing, it remains a serious risk for adolescents and young adults.

  • The Alcohol Education Trust has useful statistics about rates of addiction in young adults based on experience in the United Kingdom.
  • The NIAAA has a detailed analysis of the prevalence, causes, and effects of underage drinking in the USA. It recognizes the phenomenon as a serious problem and considers strategies for prevention and containment of the trend, as well as the role that parents can play.
  • The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has a page directed at young people. This resource can help young people understand the causes and effects of alcohol abuse, and evaluate their risk of addiction.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a number of informative fact sheets, including one on underage drinking, backed by national surveys and research papers.
  • Among the Surgeon General’s “Calls to Action” is helpful Guide for Families.

Resources for Older People

Unfortunately, rates of alcohol abuse for those in retirement appear to be on the rise.

  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists, a British institution, has a page that summarizes the nature of alcohol abuse, and why older people may be particularly susceptible.
  • The National Institute on Aging presents information about the risks that older people face as a result of habitual drinking in a clear and comprehensible way.

Resources for Families of Addicts

Living with a person who is dependent on alcohol can take a great toll on family life, and also be very destructive to friendships. Help is available for them as well.

  • ProjectKnow. This is a resource site sponsored by an association of treatment centers. Its page for families includes information about support groups for partners, siblings, parents, and children of addicts.
  • Al-Anon is a voluntary organization for those who are affected by the drinking of those close to them. It works mainly through group meetings in which people can support each other. There is a parallel program for teenagers called Alateen.
  • NACoA. Voice for the Children is a charity which seeks to help the children of people addicted to drugs or alcohol. It is a membership organization which gathers information and sponsors programs to help affected children.

General Information About Addiction and Alcohol

  • The terms alcohol abuse, dependence, addiction and alcoholism are widely used and not strictly defined. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a helpful section on terminology and a lexicon of terms.
  • The American Psychiatric Association has a section on the nature of addiction. It gives a general description of the possible causes of addiction, as well as information about its main characteristics.
  • Drugwise is a website that developed out of the work of the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence. It defines addiction in terms of alcohol dependency and distinguishes between the physical and mental aspects of dependency.
  • There is an ongoing debate about whether addiction should be treated as a disease. The National Center on Addiction and Drug Abuse argues the case for considering it a disease, enabling sufferers to see themselves as people requiring medical intervention.