Recovery from alcohol problems with and without treatment: prevalence in two population surveys

Am J Public Health. 1996 Jul;86(7):966-72. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.7.966.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of recovery from alcohol problems with and without treatment, including whether such recoveries involved abstinence or moderate drinking.

Methods: Data from two surveys of randomly selected adults in the general population were analyzed. Random-digit dialing was used to conduct telephone interviews with 11,634 and 1034 respondents. Respondents 20 years of age or older were categorized on the basis of drinking status and history.

Results: Both surveys found that most individuals (77.5% and 77.7%) who had recovered from an alcohol problem for 1 year or more did so without help or treatment. A sizable percentage (38% and 63%) also reported drinking moderately after resolving their problem.

Conclusions: These two surveys are among the first to report prevalence rates for recovery from alcohol problems for treated and untreated individuals and for moderation and abstinence outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Convalescence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Recurrence
  • Self Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome