Purpose: This study describes the course of alcohol abuse among a nationally representative sample of young adults over a 5-year time period for the purpose of examining the validity of the DSM-IV alcohol abuse category.
Methods: DSM-IV diagnoses of alcohol abuse at baseline and follow-up were examined using logistic regression analyses.
Results: Alcohol abuse and dependence were shown to have different courses. Very few abusers at Time 1 became dependent at Time 2, suggesting that abuse is not merely prodromal to dependence. Females, Blacks, and high school dropouts were less likely to receive an abuse diagnosis at baseline. Marital status, family history, earlier onset of drinking, and heavy drinking were also related to abuse at baseline. Alcohol abuse at baseline, in addition to gender, marital status, family history, early onset drinking, and heavy drinking, predicted abuse at follow-up. Exclusion of the hazardous criterion item "driving after drinking too much" from the abuse diagnosis yielded similar results.
Discussion: The DSM-IV alcohol abuse category was shown to have some diagnostic utility.