Men and women should not consume more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
A unit is approximately 1 small glass of wine, 1/2 pint of beer or 25ml of spirits. In the UK approximately 35% of adults drink more than this recommended limit, with 6-9% being alcohol dependant.
Most alcoholics only seek help when they start having negative consequences due to their drinking... the alcohol starts costing more than money. This may be relationship problems, problems at work, or getting in trouble with the police. A drink driving conviction often makes alcoholics realise they have a serious problem.
There is no cure for alcoholism. There are various drugs that help, various organisations that will support the alcoholic, but at the end of the day, the alcoholic has to decide to stop for themselves. Many want to stop for their family, or to keep their career, these are perfectly reasonable reasons, but ultimately the decision to stop has to be for themselves. If they stop for their family for instance, they may well start to organise time away from the family to drink secretly.
Secret drinking, hiding alcohol, denying having been drinking and drinking alone are all serious warning signs of alcoholism.
If the alcoholic wants to stop drinking, then they are much more likely to succeed with help.
Rehabilitation centers are a common first thought for recovery, they provide a dry environment and typically group and one to one therapy. The issue though is when the alcoholic leaves treatment. Relapse rates are unfortunately very high despite the sometimes-exaggerated claims of the rehabs.
Alcoholics Anonymous provides a fellowship for alcoholics and is free to attend. AA has varying success rates depending on the individual. If the alcoholic works hard on their recovery and is committed, then AA can be very successful. AA has a spiritual belief system (not a religious one).
Psychotherapy can help the alcoholic. A therapist who specialises in addiction is a good place to start. The therapist will discuss the issue with you, discuss your motivation to recover, be able to signpost you to other organisations that can help (there are many charities offering help for alcoholics as well as expensive rehabs) and also support you as you recover. The therapy may look at what is beneath the addiction. Many alcoholics drink to feel normal, or get some respite from their discontent with their life. By looking at these issues and making changesrecovery can become pleasurable rather than the alcoholic feeling they are missing out on something they think (incorrectly often !) they enjoy.
It is extremely hard to recover from alcoholism without a significant amount of help.
I specialise in all addictions and have spent many years working in the addictions field both giving one to one therapy and also running groups.