Most People with Problematic Drinking or Alcohol Addictions Don’t Believe They Need Help

Of the 7.4 million people in the U.S. who have an alcohol disorder or are problem drinkers, almost 99 percent don’t think they need help. In other words, 99 percent of problem drinkers may need someone to start the conversation or intervene for them before the problem progresses to fatal consequences.

The alarmingly low numbers of people with problem drinking patterns who actually realize they need assistance demonstrate the nation’s need to help people address alcohol intervention and screenings like other widespread diseases, such as cancer or heart disease, say federal agency officials.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said that results taken from Surveys on Drug Use and Health from 2006 to 2009 point to the need to help teach people how to approach the topic of alcohol abuse or dependence with someone and how to lead them to assistance.

According to the report, a study conducted for National Alcohol Screening Day says that nearly 99 percent of people in their 20s through their mid-60s who have a disorder related to alcohol use – or exhibit problematic alcohol behaviors – don’t think they need professional assistance or treatment strategies.

Described by SAMHSA as “alcohol abuse disorders,” this type of alcohol abuse affects millions of people in ways that can seem subtle but become drastic, such as problems with personal relationships, workplace performance or be reflected in school performance. Nearly all people surveyed, say SAMHSA representatives, and did not admit they were involved in an alcohol abuse disorder or patterns of problematic drinking.

Similarly, of the estimated six million people in the U.S. who have an alcohol addiction or dependence and aren’t already in treatment, a low figure – only 7.8 percent – actually believe they need assistance to recover from the disorder. Millions of adults in the U.S. are living with alcohol dependence or addiction, in which they cannot stop or cut back on drinking behaviors despite the consequences. Home life, employment, finances and every other arena of life are seriously affected. Of these, few (only around 8 percent) who participated in the survey admitted that they needed assistance in reaching a point of recovery.

Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA administrator, brought to light the fatal and progressive nature of alcohol abuse in her report comments, explaining that many people who work and live with people suffering from alcohol abuse need help in making the approach that leads a person to action. Instead, she said, many people do not intervene or wait too long to begin a conversation about a person’s alcohol abuse.

SAMHSA officials and other groups are asking for greater efforts and awareness toward helping people lead people to assistance for alcohol abuse, and how to begin addressing the problem, with the hope of shifting perception of alcoholism toward a matter of national public health in which everyone plays a role, similar to campaigns for other national health dangers.