Does alcohol give you a hangover or injury? Scientists uncover five types of problem drinkers


You may have thought that problematic drinkers could be put into just one category. But now scientists say there are five different types.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University, who were behind the discovery, defined each of the profiles with a set of varied characteristics.

They range from those who struggle to cut back on alcohol, to those who are at greater risk when they are drunk and those who experience hangovers.

Scientists have found that each profile existed in people of all ages – but each is more common at different stages of life.

Scientists at Penn State University have discovered five types of problems that appear at different ages, examining 5,402 people with alcohol disorders.

Scientists at Penn State University have discovered five types of problems that appear at different ages, examining 5,402 people with alcohol disorders.

Diagnosing and treating alcohol use disorder should no longer be considered a "one size fits all" approach, according to doctors.

The findings, drawn from 5,402 people aged 18-34, were published in the journal Alcohol & Alcoholism.

The sample was restricted to participants who met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder in the previous year.

Dr. Ashley Linden-Carmichael, co-author of the study, said: "We need to think beyond that if someone has an alcohol-related disorder."

She added that doctors need to "take a specific look at what patients are facing and whether they are in a particularly risky class."


Alcohol-induced injury

This group represented 25 percent of the people, with a peak prevalence at 58 years. In addition to drinking too much, people in this profile reported having been at risk during or after drinking, which could have resulted in injuries.

Difficulty cutting

This group accounted for 13 percent of the people, with a prevalence peak at age 62. The people in this group struggled with the desire to reduce problem drinking, but they could not.

Highly problematic, low perceived life interference

This group accounted for 21 percent of the people, with a peak prevalence at 18 years. While the people in this group reported having many symptoms, they said the drink did not interfere with their family, friends, work or hobbies.

Adverse effects only

This group accounted for 34 percent of the people, with a peak prevalence at age 21. People who fit this profile reported having hangovers or withdrawal symptoms, as well as drinking too much.

Highly problematic

This group accounted for seven percent of people with a peak prevalence of age 48. People in this group reported having experienced all of the symptoms of alcohol use disorder.

Questions were asked of the participants, such as: Have you been sick, had any tremors, restlessness, racing heart when the effects of alcohol were passing, or continued to drink even if it was causing problems for family or friends? & # 39;

In addition to identifying the five groups, Dr. Linden-Carmichael said that they were able to use the method to see the prevalence of each profile at different ages.

Dr. Linden-Carmichael said the findings suggest that health care providers should consider a more personal approach to effectively treating people.

"Therapists might consider, for example, that when someone is a young adult, they should be looking for this person with withdrawal symptoms," she said.

"On the other hand, if someone is older, they may look for struggles to reduce alcohol consumption or alcohol-related injuries."

In the future, Dr. Linden-Carmichael said she would like to use the same method to observe the different classes of alcohol use disorders over time.

She said: "I am interested to see, for example, if someone has a certain profile at a younger age, what happens to them later?

If a person is in the adverse effects class only at age 21, how is the drink at age 60? Do they increase or slow down?

"If we could have a similarly large study, but following them through age, this would be the most intuitive and most beneficial to practice."

The disorder of alcohol use may include a variety of symptoms, ranging from drinking more or more than intention to more severe symptoms, such as feeling withdrawal symptoms when not drinking alcohol.

A person is considered to have an alcohol use disorder if they have two or more of the designated symptoms.

In the UK, about 31% of men and 16% of women usually drink at a level that indicates a greater or greater risk of harm (more than 14 units of alcohol in a typical week), according to NHS data. The number is around the 40% mark in the US, estimates suggest.

Dr. Linden-Carmichael said: "Although young adults are most at risk of having an alcohol use disorder, it is clear that it is also a problem for people in middle age or later in life.

"But it may seem different and they may be struggling with different aspects of the drink."

Alcohol damage costs £ 21 billion annually, according to Drink Aware. Of these, £ 3.5 billion are costs to the NHS, £ 11 billion in alcohol-related crime costs and £ 7.3 billion in lost productivity.

The cost of excessive alcohol use in the United States reached $ 249 billion in 2010, with a majority (77%) of these costs due to excessive alcohol consumption, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although teenagers were Britain's biggest drinkers, experts are now more concerned about middle-aged people.

It was revealed this month that the number of people over 65 being treated for alcohol abuse rose nearly five-fold in just over a decade.

In the wake of Public Health England data, experts warn that the baby boom generation is in denial about alcohol, with dementia, cancer and liver disease increasing.


A screening tool widely used by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the 10-question test is considered the gold standard to help determine if someone has problems with alcohol abuse.

The test was reproduced here with permission from WHO.

To complete it, answer each question and write down the corresponding score.


0-7: You are within the sensible range of drinking and have a low risk of alcohol-related problems.

More than 8: Indicate dangerous or dangerous drinks.

8-15: Average level of risk. Drinking at your current level puts you at risk of developing problems with your health and life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider reducing (see tips below).

16-19: Increased risk of alcohol complications. Cutting on your own can be difficult at this level since you may be dependent so you may need professional help from your doctor and / or a counselor.

20 and over: Dependency possible. Your drink is already causing problems, and you may well be dependent. You should definitely consider stopping gradually or at least reducing your drink. You should seek professional help to determine your dependency level and the safest way to withdraw from alcohol.

Severe dependence may require medically assisted withdrawal, or detoxification, in a hospital or in a specialized clinic. This is due to the likelihood of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours requiring specialized treatment.


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