5 Types of Alcohol Use Disorder Are More Common at Certain Ages

5 Types of Alcohol Use Disorder Are More Common at Certain Ages

Recent research suggests that there are five types of excessive drinking disorder and also reveals which is more prominent at certain ages.

As per the National Institute of Health (NIH), close to 16 million [1] people in the U.S. are suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD).

AUD is described as a chronic brain disease that keeps on relapsing, wherein the person compulsively drinks to the extent that it hampers the daily life. But AUD is more complicated than a person just over drinking.

New study [2] has further extended the issue of problematic drinking. Within AUD, there are 5 types of excessive drinking, says the study and this has been featured on the journal “Alcohol and Alcoholism. And each type has its own set of symptoms and is more common at certain specific ages.


The new study was led by Ashley-Linden-Carmichael, assistant professor, Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA


5 AUD Profiles Related to Age

Linden and colleagues studied around 5,000 participants between the ages 18-64, who were enrolled in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and were meeting the criterion for AUD in the past year.

Researchers made use of a new method called latent class analysis to examine the subtypes or profiles of people having AUD grouping those who shared the symptoms and drank too much. Five AUD classes were revealed:

  • “Alcohol-induced injury”: This was seen in 25% of the patients. People in this type engaged in risky behavior and may have landed in dangerous situations that could have caused injury.
  • “The Adverse Effects Only”: It could be seen in 34% of the patients who reported alcohol withdrawal symptoms and hangovers.
  • “Highly problematic, low perceived life interference”: 21% of the participants fall in this category. People in this group said that drinking alcohol did not interfere with their daily lives and did not affect family, social obligations, work, but they did experience a lot of AUD symptoms.
  • “Difficult cutting back”: 13% of the people can be categorized in this group. As the name suggests, they had a tough time cutting back on their alcohol consumption.
  • “Highly Problematic”: This makes up 7% of the individuals and they experienced all the symptoms of AUD.

Further, the analysis suggested how common the profile was at different ages. Among the younger adults “Highly Problematic, low perceived life interference” and “The Adverse Effects Only” were more prevalent. The authors add that as the age increased, “Alcohol-induced injury” and “Difficulty Cutting Back” became more prevalent. The authors say that the main implication for the findings is that we need a tailored treatment for people having AUD. Linden says that we must think beyond if someone has an alcohol use disorder and understand their struggles and help them if they are in a risky situation.

5 AUD Profiles Related to Age

Moreover, the greatest risk for alcohol use disorder is among the young adults but is it is also a concern for people in the adulthood or middle age. They may be dealing with different aspects of drinking. When someone is a young adult, the person could be experiencing withdrawal symptoms and when someone is older, there may be struggles with alcohol-related injuries and cutting back on alcohol.

Linden-Carmichael adds that she wants to see if someone has some profile in the younger years, what happens to them later on? And this would guide future research.

If someone is in the class of “Adverse Effects Only” at 21, what happens to them at 60? Does it increase or slow down? The researcher concludes that if we could have a large study and then follow the recruits across age, it would be most beneficial and intuitive study.