IBA – before addiction sets in…

30 Oct

One of the fundamental points about IBA is that it is an early intervention – a chance for a drinker to change their alcohol use before it becomes a problem. By problem in this sense I mean a dependency or addiction issue. Of course many non-dependent drinkers experience serious alcohol problems, even death, as a result of their drinking (think accidents and injuries as well as liver disease etc.)

A big challenge though is that many people tend to perceive dependency only in its extreme or physical form. Yet the majority of drinkers with some level of alcohol dependence will not have a physical reliance on alcohol, but a psychological one. Broadly, this means they experience a strong psychological desire to drink and difficulty controlling their alcohol use. For most dependent drinkers, that is not because their body needs it (yet), but perhaps because their brains have become overly used to drinking, often to deal with other problems or as a coping mechanism.

Perhaps the easiest way to think about the importance of the psychological aspect of dependence is the high re-lapse rate amongst severely dependent drinkers having undergone detox. Their body has dealt with the physical need to drink, but it is the ‘addicted mind’ that compels them back to drink. Whilst there is great debate over what works for ‘recovery’, one thing can be agreed for sure – achieving it is not easy.

But most alcohol misuse is amongst non-dependent drinkers so their drinking is still well within their control. They can therefore very often change their drinking without great difficulty should they choose to. They may be confronted with peer pressure, or need to find some other ways of enjoyment, but these challenges are small compared to overcoming dependency. IBA empowers risky drinkers to recognise the value of cutting down their drinking – while it still well within their control.

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2 Responses to “IBA – before addiction sets in…”

  1. Niall January 31, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    Prevention of dependence is relevant but I don’t think it is mainly about preventing this though that can be a bonus – as can spotting those who are likely to be dependent through eg the AUDIT.
    Many people drink at increasing / higher risk levels and though that may not go further, that in itself can cause a lot of problems for them and society. It is just that it may not yet be obvious as unlike eg smoking people don’t realise that just because they can handle the hangovers / don’t get into fights they are significantly increasing risks in the long term and perhaps decreasing their quality of life currently re. sleep, anxiety etc – which they may not be happy about.

    • James Morris February 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

      Hi Niall – absolutely. I think most at risk drinkers/alcohol misusers won’t go on to develop dependency, though they may experience a number of problems.

      However I think many people only consider drinking as problematic when its a stage of dependency. So by saying IBA is for ‘before addiction sets in’ was meant in the sense that it is targeted at a level of misuse that is less severe than dependency. But certainly not to suggest all risky drinkers are on an inevitable progression to more serious problems. Thanks for clarifying this!

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