Home > Prevalence, incidence, recovery, and recurrence of alcohol use disorders from childhood to age 30.

Seeley, John R and Farmer, Richard F and Kosty, Derek B and Gau, Jeff M (2019) Prevalence, incidence, recovery, and recurrence of alcohol use disorders from childhood to age 30. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 194, pp. 45-50. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.09.012.

External website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC70185...

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the course of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) in representative samples during high-risk periods of adolescence and early adulthood. The primary objective of this research is to describe the prevalence and course of initial AUD episodes experienced between childhood and age 30 in a regionally representative cohort sample.

METHODS: Study data are from an epidemiological study of 816 youth. Participants were initially selected at random from nine high schools in western Oregon, USA. Four waves of data collection were conducted between ages 16 and 30. AUD course milestones are referenced to participants' age.

RESULTS: Results indicated that male participants (43%) were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a lifetime AUD than female participants (28%) and rate of first incidence was especially high between ages 18 and 24.9, a developmental period that also corresponded to the peak interval in prevalence rates. The rate of first AUD incidence substantially diminished beginning around age 25. Among those with an initial AUD episode, 87% recovered by age 30 and, of these, the average episode length was 23 months. Among recovered cases, 33% went on to experience a second AUD episode (i.e., a recurrence) after a minimum 12-month asymptomatic recovery period. Risk for recurrence remained relatively high within the 5 years following initial AUD offset.

CONCLUSIONS: AUDs are common lifetime conditions in representative samples, whereby most affected individuals by age 30 experience a time-limited course rather than a recurring or persistent course.

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