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The natural history of alcohol abuse: implications for definitions of alcohol use disorders
Am J Psychiatry 1990;147:1537-1541.
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Abstract

Is the DSM-III-R category of alcohol abuse validly differentiated from the DSM-III-R category of alcohol dependence, or is abuse primarily a mild, prodromal condition that typically deteriorates into dependence? A 4-year longitudinal epidemiologic study of male drinkers provided data to answer this question. The study used identical questions at baseline and follow-up. At follow-up, 70% of the subjects who were initially classified as alcohol abusers were still abusers or were classified as remitted. This contrasted significantly with outcome in the subjects who initially reported alcohol dependence. Although additional research is needed, these results indicate that alcohol abuse often has a course distinct from that of alcohol dependence.

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