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Alcohol abuse and dependence

Twelve month prevalence figures from the 2006 New Zealand Mental Health Survey (Te Hinengaro).

  1. Alcohol Abuse 2.6% overall, but 7.1 % in 16-24 age group.
  2. Dependence 1.3% overall, but 3.0% in 16-24 age group.
  3. This encompasses the idea of physiological dependence, dyscontrol, salience and the psychological and physical problems which often accompany alcohol and drug dependence.
  4. Tolerance and withdrawal do not have to be present. If they are, it would usually mean a more severe dependence.

For more information

See information for women on alcohol.

Core Features of Substance Abuse

Core Features

  • failure to fulfil major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., neglect of children or household) as a result of the substance use
  • recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or when caring for an infant)
  • recurrent substance-related legal problems
  • continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or inter-personal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance (e.g., arguments with partner about consequences of intoxication, physical fights)

Core Features of Alcohol or Substance Dependence

Core symptoms

A maladaptive pattern of substance use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three (or more) of the following, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

  • tolerance; which is exhibited if markedly increased amounts of a substance are needed to achieve intoxication or the desired effect, or using the same amount results in a markedly diminished
  • withdrawal; as manifested by either the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance or the same (or a closely related0 substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • escalating use; the substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
  • loss of control; there is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use
  • salience; a great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance (e.g., visiting multiple doctors or driving long distances), use the substance (e.g., chain-smoking), or recover from its effects
  • reducing activities; important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use
  • harm; the substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance (e.g., current cocaine use despite recognition of cocaine-induced depression, or continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption)

Dependence may occur with or without Physiological Dependence.

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