NIH Study Finds Spike|in Problem Drinking

     (CN) – Problem drinking is on the rise in the United States and only a small percentage of those afflicted seek help, the National Institutes of Health reported on Wednesday.
     Alcohol use disorder, or AUD, is the medical diagnosis for problem drinking that causes mild to severe distress or harm.
     A new study by NIH – supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – found that nearly one-third of adults in the United States have a diagnosed case of problem drinking at some point in their lives. Only 20 percent of them seek treatment, the study found.
     The findings were reported online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday.
     Previously, psychiatrists classified alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence as two separate disorders. But the latest thinking puts both into the AUD category, with mild, moderate and severe sub-classifications.
     Researchers found that nearly 14 percent of adults – 33 million – met the current AUD criteria for the previous year. Nearly 30 percent experienced the disorder at some point in their lives, the study found.
     About 20 percent of those with lifetime disorders sought treatment, but less than eight percent of those who experienced problem drinking in the last year sought help, researchers said.
     Rates of AUD are more prevalent among men. Young adults had higher rates of diagnosed problem drinking over the last year, prompting researchers to call for more effective prevention and intervention efforts among young people.
     The study also found large increases in AUD rates since the study was last done in 2001-2002, researchers said.
     “These findings underscore that alcohol problems are deeply entrenched and significantly under-treated in our society,” said NIAAA director George F. Koob, Ph.D. “The new data should provide further impetus for scientists, clinicians, and policy makers to bring AUD treatment into the mainstream of medical practice.”

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