Objective: We tested whether the number and type of alcohol abuse symptoms were associated with an increased likelihood of treatment seeking among respondents with alcohol dependence.
Methods: Data from 4027 adult respondents from 2006 and 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) who met DSM-IV criteria for the past year alcohol dependence were used. Respondents were classified according to the number of past year alcohol abuse symptoms endorsed, as well as type of abuse symptom. Associations were estimated using weighted multivariate logistic regressions that controlled for severity of alcohol dependence, other drug use disorders and other characteristics.
Results: Twenty-eight percent of individuals with alcohol dependence had one alcohol abuse symptom, 20% had two and 19% had three or four. Individuals with more alcohol abuse symptoms differed from those without alcohol abuse symptoms in a number of sociodemographic characteristics and severity of alcohol and drug dependence. Even after adjusting for these factors, individuals with three or four alcohol abuse symptoms had 2.67 times increased odds of treatment seeking, as compared to those without alcohol abuse symptoms [95% CI=1.65-4.30]. However, individuals with one or two alcohol abuse symptoms were no more likely to seek treatment than those without alcohol abuse symptoms. Majority of those with one or two alcohol abuse symptoms endorsed the hazardous abuse symptom.
Conclusion: Alcohol abuse symptoms are important factors for treatment seeking in individuals with alcohol dependence, but only among certain subset of individuals with three or four alcohol abuse symptoms. Examining structural and psychosocial differences across these subgroups may help inform and reduce barriers to treatment seeking among this population.
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