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Alcohol disorders affect one-third of Americans, and few receive help
Alcohol disorders affect one-third of Americans, and few receive help

July 5, 2007 (Insidermedicine) Close to one-third of Americans will be affected by an alcohol-related disorder during their lifetime, but only one-quarter of them will receive treatment, say researchers in a report published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Alcohol dependence is often associated with problems like major depression, bipolar and personality disorder, as well as a dependence on other drugs. In the US more than 17 million people abuse alcohol or are alcohol dependent. Alcohol abuse leads to not being able to meet work, school, or family responsibilities, drunk-driving arrests, car accidents and alcohol-related medical conditions.

To investigate the prevalence of alcohol abuse and its related problems, researchers surveyed more than 43,000 American adults of various races, educational and income levels. The survey found that almost 18% of adults will abuse alcohol at some point in their lives and 12% will become alcohol dependent. Only 24% of those who develop alcohol dependence will receive treatment.

The survey also found that men were three times more likely to develop an alcohol disorder; native Americans had a 40% greater risk for alcohol dependence than whites; and adults under 30 years old were almost seven times more likely to develop dependence than those 65 or older. As well, people earning less than $35,000 had a 60% higher risk than those who earned $70,000 or more annually, and people who made between $35,000 and $70,000 had a 40% increased risk.

In addition, people with lower income were less likely to get treatment than the higher income earners. 

The findings highlight the urgent need to educate the public and policy-makers about alcohol use disorders, and to encourage chronic drinkers to seek help to prevent ongoing harm to themselves and others.

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Dr. Susan Sharma. 

 
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