The number of American adults who abused or were dependent on alcohol rose
from about 13.8 million to 17.6 million over the past decade, according to new
data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
The results of the 2001-02 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and
Related Conditions (NESARC) appeared in the June Drug and Alcohol
Researchers were able to assess trends in alcohol use disorders over the
1990s by comparing data from the NESARC with those of a similar survey
conducted a decade earlier, the 1991-92 National Longitudinal Alcohol
Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES).
The NIAAA research team was led by Bridget Grant, Ph.D., chief of the
Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biometry in NIAAA's Division of Intramural
Clinical and Biological Research. The team found that while rates of alcohol
abuse among the general population increased from 3.03 percent to 4.65 percent
between 1991 and 2001, rates of alcohol dependence dropped from 4.38 percent
to 3.81 percent during that same period.
As part of the NESARC study, staff of the U.S. Census Bureau conducted
face-to-face interviews with a randomized, nationally representative sample of
43,093 respondents in 2001 and 2002.
The NLAES was also conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau using a randomized,
nationally representative sample of 42,862 respondents in 1991 and 1992.
In both surveys, researchers used DSM diagnostic criteria to
assess whether respondents were dependent on or had abused alcohol during the
previous year. Some of their findings are reported below:
"The NESARC report reinforces the need for ongoing research to define
genetic and environmental factors that contribute to alcohol abuse and
dependence, as well as current NIAAA initiatives for the early identification
of at-risk drinkers and the application of the research-based interventions in
vulnerable populations, especially underage drinkers," NIAAA Director
Ting-Kai Li, M.D., said in a press release.
An abstract of the article, "The 12-Month Prevalence Rates and
Trends inDSM-IVAlcohol Abuse and Dependence: United
States, 1991-1992 and 2001-2002," is posted online at<www.sciencedirect.com>.▪