Abstinence is necessary for successful alcoholism treatment. Alcoholics cannot resume social drinking without risking a return to dependence. Many feel they are the exception to the rule; however, for every 10 people who say they will stop drinking, only four do. Motivation and intervention by family or friends can help the alcoholic achieve abstinence.

Recovery from alcohol dependence is possible. DSM-IV reports one study in which 65 percent of patients who abused or were dependent on alcohol abstained for at least a year following treatment. Another study showed 40 to 60 percent of alcoholics abstaining for longer than 1 year.

Over 700,000 people per day receive treatment for alcohol dependence. Approximately 20 percent of people with alcohol dependence achieve long-term sobriety without treatment.

Publication Review By: Debra Emmite, M.D., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Apr 2001

Last Modified: 28 Aug 2015