Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Use Disorders: An Update on Prevalence and Associated Burden

Sandra Helinski

Jürgen Rehm (CA)

Almost half of adults globally consume alcohol, and alcohol use disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disease categories.  In 2014, an estimated 4.1% of adults qualified for alcohol-use disorders, 2.3% for alcohol dependence (AD), and 1.8% for harmful use of alcohol (HU; definitions according to ICD 10 classification).  As expected by the different patterns of consumption, men had considerably higher prevalence than women (AD: w: 0.7%, m: 4.0%; HU: w: 0.6%, m: 3.2%; AUD: w: 1.3%, m: 7.2%).  Also, there were considerable regional differences, with the WHO European Region having the highest prevalence, followed by the Americas, the Western Pacific Region (including China), the African Region, the South East Asian Region (including India) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region with a predominance of countries where the majority has Muslim faith.

The burden of disease associated with alcohol use disorders is huge: more than 100 thousands deaths, and more the 32 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost, which corresponds to 0.2% of all deaths and 1.2% of all DALYs lost.

These numbers make it clear, that reducing the burden of alcohol use disorders is not only important for those affected, but also has clear public health implications.