While we might broadly define alcohol abuse as drinking too much, the reality is more complicated.
In fact, there are as many as five distinct types of problem drinker profiles, according to a new study.
Research from Penn State University, published in the Alcohol and Alcoholism journal, highlights how disordered drinking can vary from person to person.
While for one individual, it might involve falling over and getting into dangerous situations, for another it might not appear to interfere with their lives at all – at least for those watching them.
Certain drinking profiles were more common at different life stages, scientists found. For instance, young adults might be more likely to experience to simply experience the adverse effects of drinking, like hangovers and withdrawal symptoms.
Older drinkers, meanwhile, might struggle more with alcohol-relates injuries.
The five profiles outlined in the research:
Alcohol-induced injury: In addition to drinking too much, people in this profile reported getting into risky situations during or after drinking that may have resulted in injury.
Difficulty cutting back: People in this group struggled with wanting to cut back on their problematic drinking but being unable to.
Highly problematic, low perceived life interference: While people in this group reported experiencing many symptoms, they said their drinking did not interfere with their family, friends, work or hobbies.
Adverse effects only: People who fit this profile reported experiencing hangovers or withdrawal symptoms in addition to drinking too much.
Highly problematic: People in this group reported experiencing every symptom of alcohol use disorder.
The research could have important implications for how we treat alcoholism in the future, according to Ashley Linden-Carmichael, an assistant research professor at the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, who authored the study.
She says: “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.”
Alcohol addiction can have manifold effects on your wellbeing – including your mental health.
Recent statistics revealed that the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related behavioral disorders has risen in the last 10 years by 94% for people aged between 15 and 59, and by 150% for people over 60.
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