Alcohol use is very common throughout the United States. A 2015 national survey indicated that 86% of Americans over 18 drank at some point. The survey noted that “26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they had engaged in binge drinking in the past month”, with 6.2% of this age group – 15 million adults – qualified as having Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
Since 2015, studies show that alcoholism and alcohol abuse among Americans, especially among women and minorities, has increased further. Alcohol abuse takes many forms, with Alcohol Use Disorder covering a variety of symptoms and manifestations of problem drinking.
Alcohol Use Disorder and its Relation to Problem Drinking
Problem drinking is an umbrella term, with no formal classifications or types. Previously, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence were classified as separate conditions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The newer DSM-V combines these into the condition known as Alcohol Use Disorder, with “mild, moderate, and severe sub-classifications” depending on the number of symptoms a person displays.
The DSM-V describes “times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended” as one symptom of AUD – a description which may sound familiar to many people, especially those who have engaged in binge drinking. Other symptoms include continuing to drink despite it causing problems with family, occupation, or school, or being unable to stop drinking without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Some problem drinkers may exhibit only one of these symptoms or a number of them to varying degrees. Some may be classified as having AUD, while others may not. Problem drinking can present as a group of behaviors, as the presence of a disorder, or as both.
5 Types of Problem Drinking
Although “problem drinking” covers numerous forms of unhealthy behavior, recent studies have attempted to designate different forms. One study identifies five types of problem drinking that vary with age:
- Alcohol-Induced Injury
- Highly Problematic
- Low Perceived Life Interference
- Adverse Effects Only
- Difficulty Cutting Back
- Highly Problematic
Generally, the study notes, younger adults were more likely to fall into the “Adverse Effects Only” category, or to exhibit highly problematic drinking patterns, but not have them interfere with daily functioning. Older adults were more likely to experience “Difficulty Cutting Back” or “Alcohol Related Injury”.
Younger people may binge drink at parties while still being relatively high-functioning in their daily lives, while people with an established alcohol habit may experience withdrawal symptoms, finding it difficult to curtail use. Of course, anyone of any age can experience these symptoms.
Likewise, “low perceived life interference” can easily be a misperception on the part of the drinker, or can turn into something more severe and debilitating. Problem drinking can indicate the presence of AUD, be a precursor to AUD, or may be a dangerous type of behavior, such as binge drinking, that is high-risk regardless of whether AUD is technically present.
Treatment for an Alcohol Use Disorder
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers a continuum of alcohol rehab and substance use recovery care, from medically-supervised detox to inpatient programs and sober living.
Alcohol abuse takes a different form in every individual’s life, with varying reasons behind it. The caring and professional team at our drug and alcohol centers will help you or your loved one address any underlying or co- occurring mental or emotional issues that may be contributing to alcohol and other substance abuse.
Call our alcohol treatment admissions staff for help at (603)339-4160.
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