More than 1/3 of U.S. adults with alcohol dependence (alcoholism) that began more than 1 year ago are now in full recovery.
The fully recovered individuals do not show symptoms of either alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse and either abstain or drink at levels below those known to increase relapse risk.
They include roughly equal proportions of abstainers (18%) and low-risk drinkers (17.7%).
The analysis is based on data from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a project of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
The researchers found that 25% of individuals with alcohol dependence that began more than 1 year ago now are dependent.
In addition, the researchers found that 27% are in partial remission (that is, exhibit some symptoms of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse).
| NESARC is the largest survey ever conducted of the co-occurrence of alcohol and drug use disorders and related psychiatric conditions|
12% are asymptomatic risk drinkers with no symptoms but whose consumption increases their chances of relapse.
The recovery analysis is based on a subgroup of 4,422 adults who met the clinical criteria for alcohol dependence that began more than one year before the 2001-2002 survey.
These individuals were primarily middle-aged, non-Hispanic white males.
Based on a representative sample of 43,000 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, the NESARC is the largest survey ever conducted of the co-occurrence of alcohol and drug use disorders and related psychiatric conditions.
Dr. Dawson and her colleagues found that the likelihood of abstinent recovery increased over time and with age and was higher among women.
"Results from the latest NESARC analysis strengthen previous reports that many persons can and do recover from alcoholism,” said NIAAA Director Dr Ting-Kai Li.
"Today’s report is valuable as a snapshot of current conditions and for information about some of the characteristics associated with different recovery types."