The DEFINITION of ALCOHOL USE DISORDER (AUD)

What was once called alcoholism, alcohol abuse, or alcohol addiction is now classified as either Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), focusing only on alcohol use, or Substance Use Disorder (SUD), focusing on drug and alcohol use. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists the diagnostic features of all recognized mental disorders, including AUD and SUD.

AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences, and a negative emotional state when not using. An estimated 15 million people in the United States have AUD. 

Ref: NIAA-NIH Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

ALCOHOL USE IN THE UNITED STATES

  • People Ages 12 and Older: According to the 2019 NSDUH, 14.5 million (nearly 15 million) people ages 12 and older (5.3 percent of this age group) had AUD. This number includes 9.0 million men (6.8 percent of men in this age group) and 5.5 million women (3.9 percent of women in this age group)
  • Youth Ages 12 to 17: According to the 2019 NSDUH, an estimated 414,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 (1.7 percent of this age group) had AUD. This number includes 163,000 males (1.3 percent of males in this age group) and 251,000 females (2.1 percent of females in this age group).

TREATMENT OF AUD IN THE UNITED STATES

  • According to the 2019 NSDUH, about 7.2 percent of people ages 12 and older who had AUD in the past year received any treatment in the past year. This includes about 6.9 percent of males and 7.8 percent of females with past-year AUD in this age group.9 According to the 2019 NSDUH, about 6.4 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 who had AUD in the past year received any treatment in the past year. This includes about 6.4 percent of males and 6.4 percent of females with past-year AUD in this age group.
  • According to the 2019 NSDUH, about 7.3 percent of adults ages 18 and older who had AUD in the past year received any treatment in the past year. This includes about 6.9 percent of males and 7.9 percent of females with past-year AUD in this age group.9
  • Less than 4 percent of people with AUD were prescribed a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat their disorder.10
  • People with AUD were more likely to seek care from a primary care physician for an alcohol-related medical problem, rather than specifically for drinking too much alcohol.

Ref: NIAAA-NIH Alcohol Facts and Statistics

Information last updated 9/2021.