According to a study recently published in JAMA Psychiatry, one in eight American adults now meets the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism. Further, nearly one in four adults under age 30 met the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.
The study also found that rates of alcoholism were higher among men (16.7 percent), Native Americans (16.6 percent), people below the poverty threshold (14.3 percent), and people living in the Midwest (14.8 percent).
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The data used in the study comes from National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), which was administered by the National Institutes of Health.
To meet the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism, a person must either fit the criteria of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.
For alcohol abuse, a person must exhibit at least one of the following things (from this National Institutes of Health list) in the past year:
- Recurrent use of alcohol resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to alcohol use; alcohol-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household).
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by alcohol use).
- Recurrent alcohol-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for alcohol-related disorderly conduct).
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication).
For alcohol dependence, an individual must experience at least three of the following seven symptoms from this National Institutes of Health list:
- Need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect; or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.