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'Pre-Treating' Alcoholics

New strategy lets drinkers take first step toward sobriety -- with an expert's help

If you know someone who's an alcoholic, you probably know that he or she needs help. It's clear to you, it's clear to family members, it's clear to that person's friends -- but it probably isn't clear to that person.

So how do you get the alcoholic into treatment? An article from ABC suggests that a pre-treatment program might help.

Most alcoholics are in denial. So confronting them, particularly with anger, can backfire by making them more determined not to seek treatment, the article says. An alternative is having a health-care professional discuss the situation with the alcoholic in a non-confrontational, non-judgmental way.

The health professional might be a substance-abuse counselor or primary-care physician. That can be easier for the alcoholic than discussing the matter with a family member because there's no commitment involved.

The article notes that, for most alcoholics, giving up alcohol and the habits that go with it can create fear. The health professional can discuss what drinking means to that person and explore his or her specific fears. Since it is an exploration and discussion, one that doesn't ask the alcoholic to make a decision, it can lead the alcoholic to think about what is preventing him or her from giving up drinking.

The article notes that some treatment programs ask alcoholics to give up drinking before they enter the program. That sometimes is too big a step for the alcoholic to take alone. With pre-treatment, the alcoholic can take that first step with the help of a professional, the article says.

To find out more about alcoholism, you can read this article from

Consumer News