'Almost Alcoholic': Close to the Real Thing, Says New Book

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But others say despite the potential helpfulness of the book, "almost alcoholic" is another term that can create confusion.

"We run the risk of having too many terms -- alcohol abuse, alcohol misuse, risky drinking, unhealthy use, almost alcoholic," said Dr. James Garbutt, a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

The experts also weighed in on the variety of treatment options available depending on the severity of a person's problem drinking. As the book recommends, finding social support and talking through the problem can be helpful for almost alcoholics and others who have not yet reached the point of full-blown alcoholism.

"I try to treat the underlying issues like anxiety," said Dr. Edwin Salsitz, an attending physician specializing in chemical dependency at Beth Israel Medical Center. "That is very helpful in stopping the progression of alcoholism, but also in general for helping a person have a better life."

"Individuals with unhealthy alcohol use may benefit from brief advice and counseling," Garbutt said. "Individuals with alcoholism, especially if severe, may need inpatient treatment followed by specialized treatment, including medication."

But before seeking treatment, people need to recognize that almost alcoholism is a problem they may never have realized they had, Silver and Doyle said. That's where the book can have its biggest impact.

"It's about describing symptoms that aren't normal, that are well documented, and explaining those symptoms to people so they can better deal with them and have better health now and in the future," Silver said.

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