December 19, 2014

CDC Finds Most Excessive Drinkers are Not Alcohol Dependent

According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 90% of excessive drinkers are not alcohol dependent. 

The study was based on surveys of over 138,000 adults across the country. The study defined excessive drinking as any of the following within the prior 30 days:
  • binge drinking—i.e., having at least five drinks (for men) or four drinks (for women) on the same  occasion at least once; 
  • heavy drinking—i.e., having at least 15 drinks per week (for men) or 8 drinks per week (for women); 
  • any drinking by respondents aged 18 to 20, if not included in another drinking category; or
  • any alcohol consumption by pregnant women.
To qualify as alcohol dependent, the person had to meet at least 3 of 7 criteria (i.e., tolerance, withdrawal, impaired control, unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop drinking, continued use despite problems, neglecting activities, and time spent in alcohol-related activity) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.

The study notes that “even among those who reported binge drinking 10 or more times in the past month, more than two-thirds did not meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence according to their responses to the survey.”

For more information, read the full report.