Even as more research surfaces about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, adults in the U.S. appear to be drinking more and more. A 2015 study found that alcohol use disorders (AUDs), defined as alcohol use that causes harm or distress, is on the rise in this country. And while a significant portion of Americans can be classified as having an AUD, a relatively small percentage are seeking professional treatment for their disorder.
Truth in Numbers
The study, which was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that nearly one-third of all adults in the U.S. met AUD criteria at some point in their lives. Only around 20 percent of those adults ever seek treatment for their disorder. Researchers also found that adults were drinking more intensely, consuming five to ten drinks in a single sitting at times.
The study also found that nearly 14 percent, or 32.6 million people, met the AUD criteria within the past 12 months. Just 7.7 percent of those adults sought professional treatment. Rates were higher for men than women and showed whites and Native Americans were at the highest risk for an AUD. The study also found that adults with an AUD were also more likely to suffer from a mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder or personality disorders.
Criteria for an AUD
The criteria used to classify an AUD included the following:
- Strong cravings for alcohol
- Inability to stop using alcohol even if the person wants to quit
- Use of alcohol is causing problems at work, school or home
The study used the most recent criteria from the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” put out by the American Psychiatric Association. This criteria now combines alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence into a single diagnosis, with sublevels of severity ranging from mild to severe. In the past, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence were considered two separate diagnoses.
Researchers in this study conducted more than 36,000 interviews with U.S. adults to collect their data. This study was part of a larger study conducted on drug and alcohol use, the 2012-13 National Epidemiology Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
“These finding underscore that alcohol problems are deeply entrenched and significantly undertreated in our society,” George F. Koob, director of the NIAAA, stated on the NIH website. “The new data should provide further impetus for scientists, clinicians and policy makers to bring AUD treatment into the mainstream of medical practice.”
This study highlights once again the problem of alcohol consumption in our country. It is concerning that a significant percentage of adults that met the criteria for an AUD were between the ages of 18 and 29. It is also troubling that only one in five people with an AUD ever seek treatment for their disorder, leaving them vulnerable to the physical, mental and emotional consequences of long-term alcohol abuse.
If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, Pasadena Recovery Center can help. Our programs are designed to help you move past your dependency to a healthier, more fulfilling life of sobriety. To get the help you need today, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.