According to a factor theory, concurrent with the other aspects of alcohol addiction counseling, the LS-factor can be reduced in order to minimize the chances of a return to alcoholism. It is also important to recognize that successful assistance for the alcoholic in resolving their problems often involves the teaching and practicing of new life-style and coping strategies. This is of course what AA tries to do in many of their twelve steps (Maxwell, 1984).
Furthermore, this theory recognizes that some people who are alcoholics using the proposed definition may be able to return to social drinking (Mills, Sobell, and Schaefer, 1971; Schaefer, 1972; Marlatt and Rohsenow, 1980). While there is a contemporary controversy over whether the effects of a physical (or conditioned) addiction can ever be removed or extinguished, and therefore if a formerly addicted individual can ever socially drink again (Kalant and Hawkins, 1969:32), there is considerable evidence that social drinking is entirely possible for the person who was only dependent upon alcohol (Larkin, 1978:20). Indeed, should social drinking be possible, and the person is informed that social drinking is possible, there is a strong likelihood that the person will return to moderate drinking. An unanswered question to date concerns when abstinence should be encouraged, and when moderation is possible.
A factor theory of alcoholism goes a long way towards encompassing all the cases of alcohol abuse. It also provides a broader basis of contributing factors for alcoholic behaviour. In this way, the researcher has a new theoretical tool in the search for facts and relationships at work in alcoholism. At the same time, the alcoholic counselor has a broader understanding of the components making up alcoholism and can not only help the alcoholic come to a better understanding of their problem, but is better equipped to recognize the signs and complicating factors which hinder the person from resolving their alcoholism.
A factor theory also has the advantage of including more professionals under the umbrella. There is still an important role for medical professionals to play in the assessment and resolution of alcoholism, but this theory also invites the participation of other types of professionals (as well as the alcoholics themselves) in the resolution and prevention of alcoholism. Legislators have a responsibility to modify the cultural factors contributing to alcoholism. Teachers, social workers, industrial consultants and clergypersons have an opportunity to help modify social systems so they can be made more supportive and in this way, minimize the stress which people must cope with (Christiansen, Goldman, and Inn, 1982:343). In this way, a factor theory puts the responsibility for alcoholism prevention and resolution squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of all of us.
There are some limitations to a factors approach as well. Because it has a broader perspective, it lacks a high degree of specificity and while it tries to explain which relationships are important in the development of alcoholism, it cannot attach any sort of numerical preciseness to alcoholism. This is perhaps an unavoidable feature of any theory that tries to explain human behaviour. Nevertheless, I believe that a factors approach lends much to the understanding and treatment of alcoholism. It can explain everything that a disease perspective is able to, and yet it can account for much more. Time alone will be able to tell what such a model is worth.