Clinical Management of Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: Introduction | Diagnostic Issues | Identification | Medical Complications | Treatment of Alcoholism | Special Populations | Conclusion | Key Points | References | Suggested Reading
Alcohol abuse and dependence are prevalent and
costly problems in the United States today. Data from the Epidemiologic
Catchment Area Study indicate that the lifetime prevalence of alcohol
dependence is 14.7% (Regier et al. 1990).
More strikingly, approximately 100,000 Americans die each year from
alcohol-related disease or injury (McGinnis and Foege 1999).
It has been estimated that alcohol-related problems account for
at least 15% of health care expenditures and cost the U.S.
economy an excess of $185 billion in medical costs, loss
of life and property, and reduced productivity (Harwood 2000).
Unfortunately, alcohol dependence is underdiagnosed and difficult
to treat. In as few as 1–2 years following treatment, only
about 20%–30% of treated patients have
maintained abstinence, with most returning to heavy drinking. Clearly,
there is a critical need for the development of more effective therapies
for the treatment of alcoholism.