Early Alcohol Dependence Linked To Reduced Treatment Seeking and Chronic Relapse

Armen Hareyan's picture

Alcohol Treatment

Individuals who become alcohol dependent before age 25 are less likely to ever seek treatment than those who become alcohol dependent at age 30 or older, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They also are more likely to have multiple dependence episodes, of longer duration, and to meet more dependence diagnostic criteria than those who become alcohol dependent later in life. The study appears in the September 1, 2006 issue of Pediatrics.


"Young people who misuse alcohol are experiencing life long consequences of this abuse, and this study underscores the need for research that focuses on prevention and treatment efforts for this vulnerable population," notes NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

"The treatment-seeking and dependence severity aspects of this study add important dimensions to previous findings that have shown increased risk of developing future alcohol problems with early alcohol use," adds NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D.

In the current study, Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D. and colleagues from the Youth Alcohol Prevention Center at Boston University School of Public Health, analyzed data from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a representative survey of the U.S. adult population that involved face-to-face interviews with more than 43,000 U.S. civilians ages 18 and older. The survey included numerous questions based on diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Survey respondents also were asked about any help or treatment they had sought for their drinking. The researchers focused on the 4,778 NESARC participants