Alcohol Dependence Drops in US

The proportion of American adults who are alcohol dependent dropped from 4.38 down to 3.81 (a decline of 13%) between 1991-1992 and 2001-2002, according to a federal survey of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population age 18 and older.

The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) is directed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The survey questions used by NESARC are based on diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence contained in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition (commonly called the DSM-IV) and did not change over the course of the surveys. The questions were asked of 43,093 respondents by the United States Census Bureau.

Alcohol dependence, also known as alcoholism, is a condition characterized by impaired control over drinking, compulsive drinking, preoccupation with drinking, tolerance to alcohol and/or withdrawal symptoms. The term alcohol dependence is now generally used in research and by medical professionals in favor of “alcoholism,” because of the numerous myths that are associated with the latter term. Similarly, persons are diagnoses as alcohol dependent rather than alcoholic.


  • Grant, Bridget F., et al. The 12-month prevalence and trends in DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: United States, 1991–1992 and 2001–2002. Drug and alcohol Dependence, 2004, 74(3), 223-234.

Filed Under: Abuse