Most excessive drinkers are not alcoholics

24th November, 2014 by Melita Kiely

The majority of adults who regularly drink an excessive amount of alcohol are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent, according to a new study.

Binge drinking US

Nine out of 10 adults who regularly drink excessively are not alcoholics, new research shows

Released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the report revealed that nine in 10 adults who drink too much are actually not alcoholics.

Excessive or binge drinking is considered as four or more drinks in one sitting for women, or five or more drinks for men; drinking eight or more drinks a week for women or 15 for men; or any level of alcohol consumption by pregnant women.

Alcohol dependence is a chronic medical condition defined by an existing or previous history of excessive drinking, strong cravings for alcohol, on-going alcohol consumption in spite of drinking-related problems or a lack of control over how alcohol is consumed.

“This study shows that, contrary to popular opinion, most people who drink too much are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics,” said Robert Brewer, MD, MSPH, alcohol programme lead at CDC and one of the report’s authors.

“It also emphasizes the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to reducing excessive drinking that includes evidence-based community strategies, screening and counselling in healthcare settings, and high-quality substance abuse treatment for those who need it.”

Furthermore, the study revealed nearly one in three adults is an excessive drinker, most of whom binge drink on more than on occasion.

However, the number of adults considered to be alcoholics is much lower at just on in 30.

CDC and SAMHSA scientists analysed information on 138,100 Americans aged 18 and above who took part in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2009, 2010, or 2011.

The survey questions participants on their alcohol use, including current drinking habits, binge drinking, average alcohol intake and symptoms of alcohol dependence.

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