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Elizabeth Hartney, PhD

Are You Almost Addicted?

By October 28, 2012

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I recently reviewed a new book, called, Almost Addicted, which suggests that many people who use alcohol and drugs don't meet the official criteria for addiction, but are still at risk of developing problems.

It's an interesting idea, and definitely one that has a lot of credibility with drinkers and drug users. I remember many years ago when I was interviewing untreated heavy drinkers for my PhD research, that the main reason people wanted to take part wasn't for the money they were paid for participating, but to find out whether they were addicted without realizing it. Most of them would have met the criteria for being almost addicted, and the others would have met the criteria for alcohol dependence. And when we followed them up, ten years later, many had developed significant problems.

Yet the research evidence on alcohol and drugs shows that addiction isn't the worst consequence of alcohol and drug use -- overdoses, accidents, and violence can all occur after one-time use of alcohol and drugs, and naive users are often the worst prepared to avoid or cope with these problems while they are intoxicated.

So is it important to know if you are almost addicted? Absolutely. And if you aren't, does that mean your drinking and drugging isn't a problem? Absolutely not. So find out the facts about alcohol and drugs before going overboard, and learn how to set limits on your use.

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