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I'll get my drinking under control - how long do you wait before getting alcohol under control?
"I've got a good job, a loving partner and a cheerful outlook on life. How can I be an alcoholic?"
It seems a reasonable question to ask - but recent research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests that otherwise 'socially stable' people can still suffer from serious alcohol problems and are more likely to delay seeking help getting alcohol under control, even when those problems become critical.
The thesis, submitted by Kristina Berglund of the University's Department of Psychology, argues that, in order to reach individuals with a 'hidden' alcohol problem, public healthcare professionals need to focus on early-stage intervention, perhaps via awareness programmes within workplaces and educational institutions.
"This all goes back to the myth that the typical alcoholic is a lonely down-and-out, sitting on a park bench and swigging from a can of maximum-strength lager," says Sue Allchurch, director of research at Linwood Group. "Time and time again, at our residential rehab centres, we see that this is not the case. Clients come from all walks of life and many have successful careers, loving families and wide-ranging interests. But they've found to their cost that the speed at which an alcohol problem escalates can put it all at risk."
Indeed, the University of Gothenburg study demonstrates that point neatly. It found that, while those with incipient alcohol problems may enjoy a good career and social life and experience themselves as being mentally healthy, quality of life rapidly begins to flag the longer the problem persists. Subjects in the study increasingly reported a greater number of physical and mental health problems, and also problems with work and relationships.
That was the case for both men and women, the study found. "With the exception of a small number of differences in drinking habits, there were no differences between the sexes", says Kristina Berglund.
"It's time society put aside its misconceptions about alcoholics and woke up to the fact that anyone can suffer from this disease," says Sue Allchurch. "If there was less confusion about alcoholism, those people who have the most to lose might be persuaded to seek alcohol addiction help at an earlier stage."
For free and confidential advice on gaining professional support and care for your own or a friend or family members who need help getting alcohol under control, why not call Linwood Group on Freephone 0800 066 4173 (or if you are calling from a mobile phone or from overseas, call 01226 698 054) to begin living free from addiction?
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