A new study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research has revealed that disorders related to the abuse of alcohol contribute significantly to the burden of disease in the United States.
It was estimated by the researchers that about 53,000 men and 12,000 women died from issues related to alcohol use disorders (AUD) in 2005.
The meta-analysis results were surprising, said lead author Jürgen Rehm, Ph.D., director of social and epidemiological research at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto in Canada. “We had done meta-analyses on AUD before and knew it would be higher than previous literature, but we did not expect the burden for disease to be so high.”
Alcohol is definitely linked to burden of disease in the United States, said Stuart Gitlow, M.D., psychiatrist and president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “But the problem is everyone in the field defines AUD, a fairly new term, differently. For example, alcohol can lead to morbidity such as in traffic accidents, but this may have nothing to do with addiction, abuse and dependence.”
Rehm added that society needs to have a multi-pronged approach for reducing burden of AUD. “There needs to be restrictions on the availability of alcohol. Increases in taxation or bans of advertisements are not part of health care, and this is part of the problem.” “The most realistic short-term goal is probably an increase in brief intervention and treatment rates.”
Gitlow remarked, “Today, at the ongoing high societal rate that alcohol is consumed in the U.S., there is little that can be done to prevent it. But the simple truth is alcohol has significant risks and minimal benefits.”