A Third of Adults Have Had Drinking Problems
Nearly 30 percent of U.S. adults have misused alcohol at one time or another, and the risk of alcohol use disorders appears to be increasing over the past decade.
Researchers from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) interviewed about 36,000 adults in the U.S, ages 18 and older, over 14 months during 2012 and 2013. Participants were asked about their drinking habits, both during the past year and throughout their lives, as well as any additional mental conditions or problems with substance abuse.
The findings, published in JAMA Psychiatry, revealed that men, whites, and Native Americans were at an increased risk of abusing alcohol. The research also found that adults who misuse alcohol are also more likely to have major depression, bipolar disorder and personality disorders. The data also showed that only 20 percent of Americans with a drinking problem seek treatment.
Additional findings revealed that every year, about 14 percent of U.S. adults will misuse alcohol, which researchers refer to as having “alcohol use disorder.” This means that about 32.6 million American have a drinking problem in a given year.
"Alcohol use disorder" is a relatively new term. Prior to May 2013, people who had drinking problems were diagnosed with either "alcohol abuse" or "alcohol dependence."
Now, rather than categorizing these problems as two separate conditions, the American Psychiatric Association considers the two a single diagnosis known as "alcohol use disorder." A person with the disorder is further classified as having a mild, moderate or severe form of the condition.
Adults who meet at least two of the 11 diagnostic criteria are considered as having an alcohol use disorder. Criteria include having strong cravings for alcohol, making unsuccessful efforts to cut down consumption and alcohol causing problems at work, home or school.
The results are the first to estimate nationwide prevalence rates for alcohol misuse since the diagnostic criteria were changed.