Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can look different for different people. The behaviors and risks associated can vary greatly, and it can be hard to understand how to intervene and educate regarding such a varied condition.
A recent study examined how AUD changes over time. In 2008, Dawson, Stinson, Chou and Grant looked at the associations between the course of AUD and changes in the average daily volume of ethanol consumption, frequency of risk drinking, and maximum quantity of drinks consumed per day.
The study was conducted with a three-year follow-up period in a sample of U.S. adults. The information gathered was from a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults who were aged 18 years or older. The mean age was 46.4 years.
The participants were interviewed in 2001 and 2002 and then interviewed again approximately three years later. There were a total of 22,245 baseline drinkers interviewed. When interviewed, the participants were questioned about the last twelve months of drinking behavior.
Wave 1 and Wave 2 of questioning revealed changes in drinking over time. There were positive changes associated in all consumption measures with developing an AUD and negative changes associated with remission of an AUD, even among those participants who continued to drink.
The increases and decreases associated with the onset and offset of dependency were only more excessive than those associated with the onset and offset of abuse. In addition, the decreases associated with full remission from dependence were more extreme than those experienced with partial remission.
There were few changes shown in participants whose AUD status remained the same over the course of the study. The transitions of AUD status factors combined with other factors show that the development of an AUD correlates with a greater increase in consumption among men. There was also an association among those with higher baseline levels of consumption.
It is possible that the greater increase in consumption among men is due to their greater amount of water in their bodies and a lower blood alcohol concentration in response to a given dose of ethanol.
The results of this study indicate that the changes of consumption associated with the onset and offset of AUD have important implications. The physical and psychological risks associated with the onset of AUD make intervention and education important for those suffering. The information in this study will help those planning strategies for preventing AUD understand how to assist adults affected by AUD.