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Problem drinkers misdiagnosed?

Depressed? Anxious? Relationship problems?Then lay off the sauce

Published on July 30th 2010.


Problem drinkers misdiagnosed?

People with alcohol problems are at risk of being misdiagnosed according to new research by Lookatyourdrinking.com- a website offering online therapy for problem drinkers. Before going through the therapy programme, over a third (38 per cent) of 1060 patients admitted they had previously received help for other conditions, but did not have their problem drinking (which existed at the same time) picked up or treated.

Before going through the therapy programme, over a third (38 per cent) of 1060 patients admitted they had previously received help for other conditions, but did not have their problem drinking (which existed at the same time) picked up or treated.

Although these patients had never previously sought treatment for their drinking problem, they had got help for conditions such as depression, relationship problems, overwork and burn out, anxiety problems, general psychiatric problems and grief, as well as a range of other reasons. However, despite these problems being recognisable symptoms associated with problem drinking, their drinking habits were not diagnosed.

Typically, patients are referred to alcohol therapy if their alcohol consumption is deemed to be a problem. Experts at Lookatyourdrinking.com believe the fact that this did not happen, indicates that their therapist or psychologist did not recognise their behaviour as being part of a drinking problem and treated them for another psychological disorder without getting to the root of the problem.

According to Dr David Bremner, consultant psychiatrist and Medical Director at Lookatyourdrinking.com: “In order to make any definitive conclusions, further research is needed. However, early indications suggest that people could be being misdiagnosed and are not receiving the treatment they really need.

“They could need help for problem drinking rather than other conditions which can manifest as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. It is vital that therapists and psychologists are looking out for this when seeing patients. It is also possible that some patients deliberately hide their drinking problem from their therapist. This is where online therapy can be invaluable, as it can be undertaken anonymously and therefore overcomes any issues of stigma or shame.”

Lookatyourdrinking.com is part of Tactus International- an organisation that treats 2,500 patients a year for alcohol addiction, eating disorders, gambling addiction, cannabis addiction and benzodiazepine addiction.

The company has noticed increased use of online therapy to a large population who would possibly not otherwise seek help. The programme is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which has proven to be very effective in face-to-face treatment. Therapists work with clients to find individual solutions, whether it is cutting down alcohol consumption or quitting altogether. For more information please visit www.lookatyourdrinking.com

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