Letter: Real alcoholics

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URSULA KENNY's article about alternatives to abstinence contains several inaccuracies ("Go on, just a small one", Real Life, 2 May). She makes no mention of the difference between a social drinker, a heavy drinker who may have problems, and somebody who is chronically dependent on alcohol. No one in AA ever diagnoses anyone else as alcoholic. Everyone draws their own conclusions and diagnoses themselves. And it is not true that AA discourages seeking other treatment.

In 1940 US research proved that alcoholism is a primary condition. It does not respond to counselling - hence the need for abstinence and the support of attendance at AA. I myself had this kind of well-meaning counselling for many years and I nearly lost my life at a time when I had a sick husband and six children to support.

My story is not unusual. Let Oliver James and Dr Nick Heather carry on treating those who are problem-drinking because they are not coping with other problems in their lives, but I hope they make a professional assessment of each case, and let the alcoholics go for treatment to those who know more about alcoholism.

CHRISTINE WILSON

Hemel Hempstead

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