Study Reveals Five Types of Problem Drinkers

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Study Reveals Five Types of Problem Drinkers

problem drinkersWe already know that treating alcohol use disorders is complicated – but now a new study says it may even more complex than we think. That’s because researchers at Penn State discovered that there are five distinct types of problem drinkers – and certain ones are more common at different stages of life.

The researchers classified the five groups into the following:

  1. Alcohol-induced injury: Those who get into risky situations (often resulting in injury) during or after drinking.
  2. Difficulty cutting back: Those who struggle with wanting to cut back but are unable to.
  3. Highly problematic, low perceived life interference: Those who experience many signs of problem drinking but who say drinking does not interfere with family, friends, work or hobbies.
  4. Adverse effects only: Those who experience hangovers or withdrawal symptoms in addition to drinking too much.
  5. Highly problematic: Those who report experiencing every symptom of alcohol use disorder.

Young adults were more likely to fit the “adverse effects only” profile, or drinking too much and experiencing hangovers and other withdrawal symptoms. Adults ages 50 to 60, on the other hand, were more likely to fall into the “difficulty cutting back” category.

This study is just further proof that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work when diagnosing and treating alcohol use disorder, said Ashley Linden-Carmichael, assistant research professor of biobehavioral health and faculty affiliate of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.

“We need to think beyond whether someone has an alcohol use disorder, yes or no, and take a look specifically at what they’re struggling with and whether they’re in a particularly risky class,” Linden-Carmichael said.

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