Alcohol use disorder is not one size fits all; the disease manifests in different ways for each person. While it is easy to develop a blanket response for treating addiction and facilitating long-term recovery, there is ample evidence to support personalizing treatment methods. Many people find better outcomes from attending age or gender-specific recovery centers, for instance. What if experts developed modalities for custom tailoring interventions, as well? Doing so could get individuals the help they need quicker, thus experiencing the benefits of recovery earlier in life.
A new study makes the cases for health care providers to personalize both treatment and intervention, Penn State University (PSU) News reports. Researchers set themselves to task by creating a method of profiling those living with alcohol use disorder or AUD. The research team at PSU found that at least five different profiles of AUD exist, each one exhibiting unique and overlapping (at times) symptoms. The findings appear in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
AUD, according to the NIAAA, is a chronic relapsing brain disease; the characteristics of the condition include compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when abstaining. Receiving a diagnosis for use disorder requires that the individual meet specific criteria, such as:
“Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?” or “Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating?”
The list of questions a provider can ask is long, and people living with AUD exhibit different symptoms at different stages of their drinking tenure.
Penn researchers found that young adults with AUD fit a different profile than older adults, according to the report. They found that the latter age group was more likely to have difficulty cutting back whereas young people were more likely to experience hangovers or withdrawal symptoms.
“Therapists could consider, for example, that when someone is a young adult, they should be looking for that person experiencing withdrawal symptoms,” said Ashley Linden-Carmichael, assistant research professor of biobehavioral health and faculty affiliate of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. “Conversely, if someone is older, they could look for struggles with cutting back their drinking, or alcohol-related injuries.”
The profiles are as follows:
- Alcohol-induced injury: In addition to drinking too much, people in this profile reported getting into risky situations during or after drinking that may have resulted in injury.
- Difficulty cutting back: People in this group struggled with wanting to cut back on their problematic drinking but being unable to.
- Highly problematic, low perceived life interference: While people in this group reported experiencing many symptoms, they said their drinking did not interfere with their family, friends, work or hobbies.
- Adverse effects only: People who fit this profile reported experiencing hangovers or withdrawal symptoms in addition to drinking too much.
- Highly problematic: People in this group reported experiencing every symptom of alcohol use disorder.
“We need to think beyond whether someone has an alcohol use disorder, yes or no, and take a look specifically at what they’re struggling with and whether they’re in a particularly risky class,” said Linden-Carmichael.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Please contact Pacific Shores Recovery if your alcohol use is having a negative impact. We can help you build a strong foundation for recovery. Our team will meet you where you are and guide you to where you want to be! Through nourishing the mind, body, and spirit, Pacific Shores Recovery can assist you in bringing about “A New Hope” and “A New Life.”