High-Intensity Drinking Versus Heavy Episodic Drinking: Prevalence Rates and Relative Odds of Alcohol Use Disorder Across Adulthood

Ashley N. Linden-Carmichael, Sara Vasilenko, Stephanie T. Lanza, Jennifer L. Maggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Heavy episodic drinking (HED) or consuming 4+/5+ drinks in 1 occasion for women/men is linked consistently with alcohol-related harms. Recent research suggests that many individuals drink at levels more than twice this cutoff (8+/10+ drinks), commonly referred to as “high-intensity drinking.” Prevalence rates of high-intensity drinking and its dynamic association with alcohol use disorder (AUD) across all ages, however, remain unknown. The current study used data from a nationally representative sample to document age-varying prevalence rates of HED-only drinking and high-intensity drinking, prevalence rates of AUD for HED-only drinkers and high-intensity drinkers, and relative odds of experiencing an AUD for high-intensity drinkers as compared to HED-only drinkers. Methods: Data were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions-III. The final analytic sample consisted of past-year drinkers aged 18 to 64 years (n = 22,776). Results: Time-varying effect modeling revealed that high-intensity drinking and HED-only drinking were equally prevalent during young adulthood and prevalence rates of both types of drinking generally became less common with increasing age. At all ages, high-intensity drinkers were at 3 or more times greater odds of meeting criteria for an AUD than HED-only drinkers. The association between high-intensity relative to HED-only drinking was strongest earlier in adulthood with approximately 83% of 18-year-old high-intensity drinkers having AUD relative to 42% of HED-only drinkers. Conclusions: Future research aiming to identify drinkers most at risk of harms and in need of treatment may benefit from assessing the extent to which an individual exceeds the 8+/10+ threshold of drinking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1754-1759
Number of pages6
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume41
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Heavy Episodic Drinking
  • High-Intensity Drinking
  • Time-Varying Effect Modeling
  • Young Adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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