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September 4, 2004

Survey: 9 percent abuse alcohol

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- About nine percent of Americans abuse alcohol and nearly 15 percent have a personality disorder, according to a U.S. government survey.

More than 9 percent have a mood disorder such as major depression or manic disorder, while more than 11 percent have an anxiety disorder.

The survey, conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, questioned 43,000 adults at length to see if they have the clinical symptoms of such disorders.

The survey results, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry and the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, represent the largest-ever such study of these disorders in the United states, the NIAAA said.

The study projected that 4.2 million or 2 percent of Americans meet the criteria for a drug use disorder.

The survey excluded people who might have transient symptoms stemming from drug withdrawal or intoxication.

It was aimed at finding how many people have a mental disorder that coincides with substance abuse. It found that about 20 percent of people with a substance use disorder also experience a mood or anxiety disorder at the same time.

"It would be incorrect for health care professionals to assume that the majority of mood and anxiety disorders are due to substance intoxication or withdrawal and will remit when the patients stops drinking," said NIAAA Director Dr. Ting-Kai Li.

Doctors treating alcoholics or drug abusers should keep a lookout for mental disorders, Li said. "Earlier research has demonstrated that, left untreated, such disorders may lead to substance use relapse and other negative outcomes," Li said.

A second part of the study found that in 2001-2002, 7.9 percent of all adults surveyed had obsessive-compulsive personality disorder; 4.4 percent had a paranoid personality disorder and 3.6 percent had an anti-social personality disorder.