5 age-related AUD profiles revealed
Linden-Carmichael and her colleagues examined the data on 5,402 participants, aged between 18 and 64 years old, who were enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and had met the criteria for an AUD in the past year.
The researchers applied a new method called latent class analysis to study subtypes or “profiles” of people with an AUD, clustering together those who shared the same symptoms, as well as drinking too much. The analysis revealed five AUD classes:
- “Alcohol-induced injury” characterized 25 percent of the participants. People with this profile engaged in risky behavior and got into dangerous situations that might have caused injury.
- “Highly problematic, low perceived life interference” characterized 21 percent of the participants. This group said that their alcohol consumption did not have any adverse effect on their lives and did not affect their family, work, or social obligations, despite also reporting that they experienced many AUD symptoms.
- The “Adverse effects only” profile included 34 percent of the participants, who reported hangovers or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- “Difficulty cutting back” was a profile prevalent among 13 percent of the participants. People in this category struggled or were unable to cut back on their drinking.
- “Highly problematic” was the final category, which made up 7 percent of the total number of participants who had every symptom of AUD.
Additionally, the analysis revealed how common each profile was when people were at different ages.
“The adverse effects only and highly problematic, low perceived life interference classes were particularly prevalent among younger adults,” write the authors, whereas “the difficulty cutting back and alcohol-induced injury classes were more prevalent as age increased.”
The main implication of the findings, says the study’s lead author, is that we need tailored treatments for people with AUD.
“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,” says Linden-Carmichael.