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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Underestimating The Level of Alcohol and Drug Use

There is a common trend among addicts and alcoholics that involves thinking that one’s peers use more than they do. Rationalizing levels of consumption by comparing one’s use to others can be dangerous and often times inaccurate, and can hold you back from seeking help. Researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust found that heavy substance users underestimate their levels of consumption compared to others, ScienceDaily reports.

The Global Drugs Survey (GDS), the world’s largest drug survey, showed that 68 percent of respondents were drinking at dangerous levels, but 83 percent believed they were consuming at low or average levels. The researchers found the same trend among drug users, according to the article.

"Given that drug use carries certain risks, whether this be to health, of getting caught or of damage to reputation, we shouldn't be surprised that some people downplay their levels of use as a way of managing their anxieties about what they're doing," said Dr Michael Shiner, an associate professor in LSE's Department of Social Policy and expert advisor to the Global Drugs Survey. 

The GDS showed that a significant portion of respondents wanted to curb their level of use. The researchers found that thirty-six percent wanted to drink less alcohol and 25 percent wanted to cut back their use of drugs.

"Whether drugs are classified as illegal or not, there is group of people who will continue to use them, so we need ways, other than the law, of changing behaviour,” said Dr Adam Winstock, a Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist at Maudsley Hospital, and creator of the Global Drugs Survey. “With this in mind we've created an app where people can confidentially input their use and it will give them a true picture of how their use compares to others. We hope that for some people this might provide the jolt they need to address their excessive alcohol or drug use. " 

The findings were published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

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