Alcoholism will now be diagnosed on a spectrum, including mild, moderate, and severe. Historically, doctors divided problematic drinking into two categories, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The new criteria for alcoholism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), no longer includes abuse and dependence diagnoses, Science Daily reports. Now, there is a single alcohol use disorder diagnosis.
Under the new criteria, new research suggests that a third of adults have an alcohol use disorder, and just 20 percent seek treatment for their disease. Having a single drink per day could put one at risk, depending on family history and behavior.
Diagnosing an alcohol use disorder now involves an 11 item criteria list, according to the article. Mild alcohol use disorder requires having two or three criteria from the list, while a severe diagnosis requires six or more. Worldwide, alcohol use disorders affect more people than any other mental health condition. In the United States, researchers found an alcohol use disorder lifetime prevalence of 29.1 percent – but only 19.8 percent of adults were ever treated.
“Most importantly, this study highlighted the urgency of educating the public and policymakers about AUD [alcohol use disorder] and its treatments, destigmatizing the disorder and encouraging among those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment,” the study concludes.
The research indicated that the 12-month prevalence of alcohol use disorder under the new DSM-5 criteria was 13.9 percent and the lifetime prevalence was 29.1 percent. The aforementioned percentages equate to approximately 32.6 million and 68.5 million adults.
The findings were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.