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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
General Health Channel
Reported December 4, 2012

Are You an "Almost Alcoholic?"

BOSTON, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - It’s believed 33% of all Americans misuse alcohol resulting in 85, 000 preventable deaths a year. So, how much do you drink? While you might not be one of the millions of alcoholics in the U.S., you could be one of the millions of almost alcoholics.

Many think it’s black and white, but Harvard psychiatrist Robert Doyle believes there’s a big grey area.

“We’re seeing alcohol problems as a spectrum,” explains Robert Doyle, M.D., the co-author “Almost Alcoholic.” 

The alcoholism expert is focusing on the zone between normal use and alcoholism diagnosis; the so-called almost alcoholic range. Here, the risk of things like insomnia, diabetes and cancer can increase.

“You don’t have to be alcoholic to have major problems with alcohol,” Dr. Doyle said. “That’s that fuzzy area that’s really hard to define.”

Brenda Wilhelmson believes she was an almost alcoholic.

“It turned into a way that I rewarded myself at the end of the day, and it just escalated from there,” said Brenda Wilhelmson. “I was basically drinking myself to sleep every night.”

Brenda can pinpoint the exact moment she crossed the line to full-blown alcoholic.

“I could have gone either way that night, and I just went for it,” Brenda tells Ivanhoe.  

Doctor Doyle believes millions who become addicted pass through the almost alcoholic phase, and he thinks a lot can stop the problem there.

“We’re not trying to put labels on people. In fact, we’re trying to prevent people from getting the label of a very serious condition,” said Dr. Doyle.  

Do an honest assessment by asking yourself things like: is alcohol affecting my sleep? Do I depend on alcohol to de-stress? Am I drinking to help deal with a medical problem? If you feel you might be heading toward a problem, try cutting back.

Dr. Doyle recommends, “If you’re having four beers on Friday night, see how you do with two beers.”

Small changes could make a big difference in where you end up on this spectrum.

Go to for more on Dr. Doyle’s book “Almost Alcoholic” and to take a self-assessment of your own drinking habits. 

For additional research on this article, click here.

Sign up for a free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs called First to Know by clicking here.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew McIntosh at

For More Information, Please Contact:

Robert Doyle, M.D.

Co-Author of “Almost Alcoholic


(617) 901-7806

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