Higher than expected rates of U.S. alcohol abuse disorders

November 27, 2013, Health Behavior News Service
Higher than expected rates of U.S. alcohol abuse disorders

Disorders related to the abuse of alcohol contribute significantly to the burden of disease in the U.S., finds a new study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Researchers estimated that in 2005, about 53,000 men and 12,000 women died from issues related to alcohol use disorders (AUD).

The results of the meta-analysis were surprising, said lead author Jürgen Rehm, Ph.D., director of social and epidemiological research at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto in Canada. "We had done meta-analyses on AUD before and knew it would be higher than previous literature, but we did not expect the burden for disease to be so high."

Previous research has shown that heavy drinking is a risk factor for more than 200 diseases or injuries. To quantify the influence of alcohol use on the burden of disease, researchers analyzed information from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and the burden of disease study of the National Institutes of Health and found that AUD was linked to three percent of all deaths in adults 18 and older in the U.S.

Alcohol use disorders contributed even more significantly to a measure of disease burden known as years lived with disability (YLD), with 1,785,000 YLD for men and 658,000 YLD for women in 2005.

Stuart Gitlow, M.D., psychiatrist and president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine agreed that alcohol is definitely linked to burden of disease in the United States. "But the problem is everyone in the field defines AUD, a fairly new term, differently. For example, alcohol can lead to morbidity such as in traffic accidents, but this may have nothing to do with addiction, abuse and dependence."

Reducing burden of AUD on society needs to have a multi-pronged approach, said Rehm, and prevention can't be regulated by care policy makers. "There needs to be restrictions on the availability of alcohol. Increases in taxation or bans of advertisements are not part of health care, and this is part of the problem."

Rehm explained it will take the same long-term perspective as used with tobacco to implement more effective measures in curbing alcohol use. "The most realistic short-term goal is probably an increase in brief intervention and treatment rates."

Gitlow added that alcohol is a public health issue and its cost to society is huge. "Today, at the ongoing high societal rate that alcohol is consumed in the U.S., there is little that can be done to prevent it. But the simple truth is has significant risks and minimal benefits."

Explore further: Unhealthy drinking widespread around the world, study shows

More information: Rehm, J. et al. (2013). Burden of disease associated with alcohol use disorders in the United States. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Related Stories

Unhealthy drinking widespread around the world, study shows

March 4, 2013
A new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) shows that alcohol is now the third leading cause of the global burden of disease and injury, despite the fact most adults worldwide abstain from drinking.

Smoking bans in bars help drinkers drink less too, study shows

September 26, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Bans on smoking in bars and restaurants not only reduce tobacco-related illnesses but may also reduce alcohol abuse, a study by Yale School of Medicine researchers shows.

Breast cancer leading cause of alcohol-attributable death in New Zealand women

July 15, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Alcohol is responsible for more than one-in-twenty deaths of New Zealanders aged under 80, new University of Otago research suggests. Although most harm to young people's health from drinking is through ...

What's the best way to treat problem alcohol use?

June 26, 2012
Scientists from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have released comprehensive reviews of the most effective treatments for alcohol dependence, one of the most prevalent addictions in Canada.

Teens who drink alone more likely to develop alcohol problems as young adults

November 18, 2013
Most teenagers who drink alcohol do so with their friends in social settings, but a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh reveals that a significant number of adolescents ...

Alcoholism treatment before, after liver transplantation reduces relapse

October 3, 2013
New research reports that liver transplant recipients who receive substance abuse treatment before and after transplantation have much lower alcohol relapse rates than those untreated or only treated prior to transplantation. ...

Recommended for you

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.