Dynamic features of problematic drinking: Alcohol use disorder latent classes across ages 18-64

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Aims: Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are linked with numerous severe detrimental outcomes. Evidence suggests that there is a typology of individuals with an AUD based on the symptoms they report. Scant research has identified how these groups may vary in prevalence by age, which could highlight aspects of problematic drinking behavior that are particularly salient at different ages. Our study aimed to (a) identify latent classes of drinkers with AUD that differ based on symptoms of AUD and (b) examine prevalences of latent classes by age. Short summary: Our findings advocate for personalized treatment approaches for AUD and highlight the need for carefully considering the role of age in prevention and intervention efforts. Methods: We used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC-III). Current drinkers aged 18-64 who met criteria for a past-year AUD were included (n = 5402). Results: Latent class analysis (LCA) based on 11 AUD criteria revealed 5 classes: 'Alcohol-Induced Injury' (25%), 'Highly Problematic, Low Perceived Life Interference' (21%), 'Adverse Effects Only' (34%), 'Difficulty Cutting Back' (13%) and 'Highly Problematic' (7%). Using time-varying effect modeling (TVEM), each class was found to vary in prevalence across age. The Adverse Effects Only and Highly Problematic, Low Perceived Life Interference classes were particularly prevalent among younger adults, and the Difficulty Cutting Back and Alcohol-Induced Injury classes were more prevalent as age increased. Conclusions: Findings suggest that experience of AUD is not only heterogeneous in nature but also that the prevalence of these subgroups vary across age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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