Alcohol use disorder is widespread, often untreated in the United States

Posted on June 4, 2015

Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are among the most prevalent mental disorders worldwide. Alcohol use disorders are highly disabling and associated with many physical and psychiatric comorbidities. They also contribute substantially to global morbidity and mortality. Alcohol use disorders impair productivity and interpersonal functioning and place psychological and financial burdens on those who misuse alcohol, on their families, friends, and coworkers, and, through motor vehicle crashes, violence, and property crime, on society as a whole.

Researcher Bridget F. Grant, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., and coauthors provide nationally representative information on prevalence, co-existing illnesses, disability and treatment from the NIAAA 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC)-III. The total sample size was 36,309 adults. Researchers also assessed previous diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV) to examine changes in prevalence.

The authors found the 12-month prevalence of alcohol use disorder under DSM-5 was 13.9 percent and the lifetime prevalence was 29.1 percent, representing approximately 32.6 million and 68.5 million adults, respectively. Only 19.8 percent of adults with lifetime alcohol use disorder sought treatment or help, while 7.7 percent of those with a 12-month alcohol use disorder sought treatment.

Current study results also show that:

- Prevalence of alcohol use disorder was highest for respondents who were men (17.6 percent 12-month prevalence, 36 percent lifetime prevalence), who were white (14 percent 12-month prevalence, 32.6 percent lifetime prevalence) and who were Native American (19.2 percent 12-month prevalence, 43.4 percent lifetime prevalence)

- Prevalence was also highest among respondents who were younger (26.7 percent 12-month prevalence, 37 percent lifetime prevalence) and who were previously married (11.4 percent 12-month prevalence, 27.1 percent lifetime prevalence) or never married (25 percent 12-month prevalence, 35.5 percent lifetime prevalence).

- Alcohol use disorders were associated with other substance use disorders, major depressive and bipolar I disorders, as well as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

The researchers assert that the findings indicate an urgent need to educate the public and policy makers about AUD and its treatment alternatives, to destigmatize the disorder, and to encourage those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment.


Category(s):Addictions

Source material from Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry


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