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Alcoholism & Addiction

Report Examines Frequency of Alcohohl Use Among Those Seeking Treatment

It is important for policymakers and health professionals to understand the frequency of alcohol use in America. Data from the Drug and Alcohol Services Information System (DASIS) and reported by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in The DASIS Report – Frequency of Use Among Alcohol-Only Treatment Admissions: 2006.

During the studied year, two percent of Americans used alcohol either daily or near daily. The survey also showed alcohol users were more likely than other Americans to be alcohol dependent in the past year. Of all admissions to substance abuse treatment centers, 40 percent reported alcohol as the primary substance of abuse.

Of those 40 percent, 22 percent reported alcohol abuse only and 18 percent reported alcohol and additional substances. During the study year, alcohol-only treatment admissions reporting daily use were, on average, more than six years older than those reporting less frequent use.

For alcohol-only admissions younger than 21 years of age, those who reported less than daily use outnumbered daily users by 15.6 to 1. For those in the age range of 21 to 24, the ratio declined to 7.1 to 1. For alcohol-only admissions among those in the age range of 25 to 34 and 35 to 44, the ratios were 3.7 to 1 and 1.7 to 1.

Alcohol-only treatment admissions in 2006 had, on average, a first intoxication age of 16 years. Most alcohol-only admissions were first intoxicated before the age of 18.

Almost half, or 49 percent, of alcohol-only treatment admissions in 2006 who reported daily use were referred to treatment by themselves, a family member or a friend. Only 19 percent of those reporting less frequent use were referred this way. More than half, or 55 percent, of alcohol-only treatment admissions reporting less than daily use were referred by the criminal justice system. Only 15 percent of daily users were referred to treatment this way.

Those who sought treatment for alcohol only daily use were more likely than those using less frequently to be treated in a detoxification type setting. The variance here was 55 percent versus 17 percent. Daily users were also more likely to be treated in a rehabilitation or residential service setting at 17 percent versus 8 percent. Ambulatory was more common for less frequent users.

During the study year, nearly half – or 47 percent – of alcohol only treatment admissions in the Northeast reported daily use, while 29 percent were reported in the South, 26 percent in the Midwest and 25 percent in the West. Daily users were also more likely to not be employed. Overall, daily alcohol users did not vary substantially in educational attainment, race/ethnicity or gender.

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