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One-third of Adults Have Had Some Form of Alcohol Use Disorder During Their Lifetimes

A survey conducted by researchers at New York based Columbia University Medical Center has shown that nearly 30 per cent of US adults have had some form of alcohol use disorder at some point in their lifetimes.

Some 17.8 per cent of the adults surveyed reported experiencing alcohol abuse, and 12.5 per cent alcohol dependence.

The background information in an article published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, states that alcohol abuse and dependence are marked by patterns of alcohol consumption that contribute to significant impairment or distress. These disorders lead to a variety of negative consequences, including car crashes, domestic violence, birth defects, and economic costs.

Dr. Deborah S. Hasin and her colleagues analysed data from face-to-face interviews conducted between 2001 and 2002 with 43,093 adults selected to represent the national population. The interviewees were asked questions about all symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence. They were also diagnosed for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorder, and other psychiatric conditions.

The researchers say that during the 12 months prior to the survey, 8.5 per cent of adults had an alcohol use disorder, including 4.7 per cent with alcohol abuse and 3.8 per cent who were alcohol-dependent.

"Alcohol dependence was significantly more prevalent among men, whites, Native Americans, younger and unmarried adults and those with lower incomes. Current alcohol abuse was more prevalent among men, whites and younger and unmarried individuals while lifetime rates were highest among middle-aged Americans," the authors write.

The study revealed that alcohol abuse among participants developed at an average age of 22.5, while dependence began at an average age of 21.9. It also showed that alcohol dependence was associated with disability, and as the dependence
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