How do I erase my alcohol dependence diagnosis?

Further Reading

Dear Stanton,

My question is simple. Once someone is labeled alcohol dependent (alcoholic), as I have been, how does that person go about removing the label from his medical records?

Any suggestions or case histories you might have would be greatly appreciated. Please help me get this monkey off my back.

I’ve been a Reason Magazine subscriber for over ten years. I read that article back then, but it did not how the power and meaning it does now.

I commend you for all the fine work you’ve done in this field and your willingness and courage to stand up to the conventional politics in treating addiction.

Bill G.

Dear Bill:

A common situation is for someone to have a history of alcohol treatment (or drunk driving), to have gotten beyond it, and for their employer or someone else to resurface the conviction/treatment later.

If they haven’t received treatment, the medical officer in the company indicates that people can’t recover without treatment. If the person is drinking, they say this is clearly impossible for someone who has previously had an alcohol problem.

I sometimes get involved in these cases. Here is what we establish:

  1. There is no recent history of treatment/drinking problems/employment problems (within reason)/DWI, et al.
  2. Thus, the person is not currently diagnosable according to DSM IV. You may want to seek an independent clinical diagnose to establish this.
  3. The medical officer, or even the diagnostician you seek, will often then cite (from experience) that recovery without treatment or with continued drinking is impossible.
  4. I then cite the NIAAA’s own NLAES study to show that (a) recovery without treatment is more common than with treatment, (b) continued drinking is the typical way people recover without treatment.
  5. I then mention that to penalize a person without contemporary evidence of the behavior of concern is clinically and legally unwarranted.

Best, Stanton

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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