1 in 3 Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder, says new study

"Alcohol problems are deeply entrenched and significantly under-treated in our society"

Published June 8, 2015 8:28PM (EDT)

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A new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry has found that way more Americans struggle with alcoholism than we thought -- almost 30 percent of adults have had an alcohol-related problem, although only a fifth of those people sought professional help.

The new statistic was found using the American Psychiatric Association's new definition of Alcohol Use Disorder.

Vocativ's Sarah Kaufman reports:

The third National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions include results from 36,309 face-to-face interviews with Americans between 2012 and 2013, when they were asked a series of questions based on the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If anyone met two of the manual’s 11 criteria in the last 12 months, they would fall under the diagnose for Alcohol Use Disorder.

The researchers found that the presence of severe Alcohol Use Disorder was especially concentrated among 18- to 29-year-olds.

"Emerging adulthood is becoming an increasingly vulnerable period for Alcohol Use Disorder onset," the researchers wrote. "[The results] suggest an urgent need to develop and implement more effective prevention and intervention efforts."

"These findings underscore that alcohol problems are deeply entrenched and significantly under-treated in our society," said National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Director George F. Koob in a statement. "The new data should provide further impetus for scientists, clinicians and policy makers to bring AUD treatment into the mainstream of medical practice."

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Alcohol Alcoholism Dependence Drinking Health Substance Abuse