It’s no secret that alcoholism can be debilitating and devastating. If you’re reading this page, it’s likely that you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol problem. You are probably also searching for the answer to one of the most common (and important) questions about alcoholism: “Can an alcoholic truly recover?” Many people mistakenly believe that it is next to impossible to transcend this disease, but studies have shown that, with effective treatment, a dependence upon alcohol can, indeed, be overcome.
For example, a study that was published in the January 2005 edition of the journal Addiction noted that more than 35 percent of adults who entered treatment for alcoholism in the United States during the previous year remained in recovery (either abstaining from alcohol or drinking only in moderation) and demonstrated no symptoms related to alcohol abuse or dependence.
The study, which was led by Dr. Deborah Dawson, was based upon an analysis of data that had been collected during the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Dr. Dawson is affiliated with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
The NESARC study, which was conducted from 2001 to 2002, involved information that had been collected on more than 43,000 individuals ages 18 and above.
Dawson’s team found that individuals who had entered treatment for alcoholism during the previous 12 months experienced success according to the following statistical breakdown:
- Abstainers (those who have not had a drink of alcohol: 18.2 percent
- Low-risk drinkers (those who are not abstinent, but whose drinking has not caused continued problems): 17.7 percent.
- In partial remission (exhibiting some symptoms of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse): 25 percent
According to a press release announcing the study that was posted on the Addiction website, the team that Dawson led also reached the following conclusions:
- The likelihood of abstinent recovery increased over time and with age and was higher among women, individuals who were married or cohabiting, individuals with an onset of dependence at ages 18-24, and persons who had experienced a greater number of dependence symptoms.
- The likelihood of non-abstinent recovery (that is, low-risk drinking with no symptoms of abuse or dependence) increased over time and was higher among individuals who were married or cohabiting, those with a family history of alcoholism and persons who had experienced fewer symptoms of dependence.
- The greater the peak quantity of alcohol consumed, the lower the likelihood of either type of recovery.
“Results from the latest NESARC analysis strengthen previous reports that many persons can and do recover from alcoholism,” NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D., said in the Addiction release.
Recovering from alcoholism or alcohol abuse can take time. In fact, some studies have found that the likelihood of recovery actually increases with time. In other words, the longer you’re willing to stick with a treatment program, the more likely you are to become free of your dependence on alcohol.
The best thing you or your loved one can do is decide now, before you ever enter a treatment program, that you’re not going to give up.
When you make the decision that you’re going to continue on the road to recovery until you can honestly say that you are free from a dependence upon alcohol, you have just guaranteed the support of the most important person in your recovery program: yourself.
If you or someone you care about is struggling to overcome a dependence upon alcohol, know that recovery is possible – and that effective treatment may be as close as a phone call away. To learn more about the many treatment options that are available to you, and to find the program that best meets your unique needs, please call 844-842-5839 to speak confidentially to a counselor.