Alcohol Use Disorder involves more than a person merely drinking excessively. New research shows that there are five distinct types of AUD that a more prevalent at specific ages. Of course, not everyone who has an alcohol use disorder is an alcoholic. Also, a person does not have to be an alcoholic to benefit from treatment for alcohol abuse. So, how does age influence a person’s drinking behavior, and what are the different age-related alcohol use disorder classifications?
Let’s begin by looking at some statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to their research:
- Approximately 16 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder today.
- The research also shows that about 86.4 percent of people over the age of 18 reported drinking alcohol at some point.
- Also, 26.9 percent of people over 18 reported binge drinking in the past month, with 7.0 percent engaging in heavy alcohol use in the past month.
- An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related problems each year.
- About 9,967 driving fatalities are attributed to alcohol.
- The economic burden of alcohol abuse cost the US more than $249.0 billion per year.
- More than 10 percent of children in the US have a parent with AUD.
- Globally, about 3.3 million deaths are alcohol-related.
What makes people consume enough alcohol to become one of the above statistics? New research shows that problematic drinking has symptoms that are more common at certain ages. This research may help in our understanding of how to improve treatment methods.
5 Classifications of Age-Related Alcohol Use Disorder
Below are the 5 profiles of AUD, according to a survey conducted by the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions:
- Alcohol-induced injury – Individuals engage in risky behavior and get into situations that cause injury. More prevalent as age increases.
- HIghly problematic, low-perceived life interference – These individuals have many AUD symptoms. However, their alcohol abuse does not have adverse effects on their family, work, or social obligations. Prevalent among younger adults.
- Adverse effects only – Participants reported hangovers or alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Prevalent among younger adults.
- Difficulty cutting back – People in this category struggled or were unable to cut back on their alcohol consumption. More prevalent as age increases.
- Highly problematic – These individuals have all of the above symptoms. Prevalent among younger adults.
The study will continue trying to determine if a young person in one category (profile) will slow down or escalate their drinking as they get older. The research shows that individuals with AUD need treatments that are specifically tailored for age-related alcohol use disorder.
Understanding the 3 Main Types of AUD
Age-related alcohol use disorders also fall under 3 types:
- Alcohol abuse – Your drinking is considered alcohol abuse if you continue drinking in spite of the following:
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Drinking while driving
- Legal problems
- Poor school or work performance
- Binge drinking – You drink harmful amounts of alcohol in one session and may engage in the following:
- Miss school or work
- Cause property damage
- Have more hangovers
- Become injured
- Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) – Alcohol abuse can become alcoholism quickly. You are an alcoholic if you continue to drink despite the adverse effects it’s having on your life and health. Signs of alcoholism include the following:
- Drinking compulsively despite problems
- Have severe cravings when not drinking
- Need more alcohol to get the desired effect
- Withdrawal symptoms worsen
Getting Help for Alcohol Use Disorder
Experts agree that quitting alcohol is easier in the early stages before dependence or alcoholism develops. However, thousands of people are now sober after seeking professional addiction treatment.
If you would like more information about age-related alcohol use disorder, or about treatment for alcohol abuse, contact us today.
niaaa.nih.gov – Alcohol Facts and Statistics
verywellmind.com – Do You Have an Alcohol Abuse Problem?