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Leading Swedish doctor claims some alcoholics can be taught to drink moderately

posted 21 Jan 2013, 10:46 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Jan 2013, 10:47 ]

A Swedish academic claims more than fifty percent of alcoholics can be taught to drink moderately.

STOCKHOLMSWEDEN (JANUARY 17, 2013) (REUTERS) - Doctor Sven Andreasson, who has carried out research into the subject of alcoholism in his role as adjunct professor of social medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, has claimed that abstinence is not the only way to treat those with drink problems. Instead, cognitive behavioural therapy techniques could be used to teach problem drinkers to drink moderately.

"My sense is that a large part, perhaps more than fifty percent of people that have the diagnosis or fulfil the criteria for the diagnosis, could achieve moderate drinking," Andreasson said.

Andreasson stressed that those with serious problems would be advised to remain sober, but that those with moderate dependency on alcohol could be taught to drink socially by setting goals and logging what they drink and how.

Bar customer Karlos Kyprios echoed the doctor's sentiments, but he said he was not sure that people could be taught. Kyprios, who said that he had spent a period in rehab in California, said that people have different drinking problems at different times in their lives.

"I don't know if it can be taught, but I think that it's possible. I think that people go through phases in life, up and down, sometimes you're going to drink heavy, sometimes you can drink light. But I don't know if it can be taught," he said.

Kian Fassih, an off-duty bartender who was enjoying a drink in a Stockholm bar, said he believed it was a mental issue and moderate drinking could work for some.

"Some alcoholics, they have like an addictive personality," Fassih said, adding that those with less profound problems with alcohol could possibly be taught to control them.

"No matter what it is, if it's alcohol or a certain type of drug, they're so dependent on it there may not be very much hope outside of professional help. But other people, maybe I would say if you're not that deeply down the canal, it could be possible depending on your mental state of mind," he said.

Outside of his work at the Karolinska Institute, Doctor Andreasson runs a practice in the Swedish capital helping people to deal with alcohol issues. He said more work will be needed before medics fully understand the possibilities when it comes to teaching alcoholics to drink moderately.

"We still haven't really reached out to the large majority of dependent drinkers in the community," he said.