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Binge Drinking and Axis I Psychiatric Disorders in Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC)

J Clin Psychiatry 2011;72(5):640-647
10.4088/JCP.10m06207gry

Objective: The aims of this study were to document the sociodemographic correlates of binge drinking in middle-aged and older adults and to test the association of binge drinking with the occurrence of DSM-IV mood, anxiety, and alcohol use disorders; smoking; and the use of illicit drugs independently of sociodemographic variables and lifetime diagnosis of the disorder in question.

Method: We conducted secondary data analyses based on a subsample of a 3-year prospective, population-based study, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which consisted of a nationally representative sample of 13,489 American community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and above, interviewed in both 2001–2002 and 2004–2005. This survey assessed the occurrence of 11 DSM-IV mood, anxiety, and alcohol use disorders; nicotine dependence; and the use of illicit drugs during the 3-year follow-up period by using the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule–DSM-IV Version.

Results: We found that, among persons aged 50 years and above, 15.6% of men and 5.7% of women reported binge drinking in the year prior to baseline assessment in 2001–2002. After adjustment was made for covariates, both men who were occasional binge drinkers and men who were frequent binge drinkers were significantly more likely than current male drinkers without binge drinking to have alcohol abuse disorder (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.90 [95% CI, 1.82–4.62] and AOR = 5.68 [95% CI, 3.79–8.51], respectively) and alcohol dependence disorder (AOR = 3.69 [95% CI, 1.75–7.75] and AOR = 9.21 [95% CI, 5.59–15.18], respectively). Similarly, after adjustment was made for covariates, both women who were occasional binge drinkers and women who were frequent binge drinkers were significantly more likely than current female drinkers without binge drinking to have alcohol abuse disorder (AOR = 4.43 [95% CI, 1.85–10.60] and AOR = 3.49 [95% CI, 1.64–7.43], respectively) and alcohol dependence disorder (AOR = 5.20 [95% CI, 1.56–17.33] and AOR = 19.47 [95% CI, 7.59–49.98], respectively). In addition, in female subjects, occasional binge drinking was associated with an increased risk of panic disorder without agoraphobia (AOR = 2.23; 95% CI, 1.01–4.91) and posttraumatic stress disorder (AOR = 2.67; 95% CI, 1.05–6.84).

Conclusions: Binge drinking is strongly associated with a higher risk of alcohol use disorder in middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Results provide valuable information on the risks associated with binge drinking and suggest targets for prevention strategies for mental health in middle and old age.

J Clin Psychiatry

Submitted: April 28, 2010; accepted August 30, 2010

Online ahead of print: January 25, 2011 (doi:10.4088/JCP.10m06207gry).

Corresponding author: Kee-Lee Chou, PhD, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Rd, Hong Kong (klchou@hku.hk).