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J Stud Alcohol. 1997 Mar;58(2):155-61.

Predictors of help seeking among a longitudinal sample of the general population, 1984-1992.

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  • 1Western Consortium for Public Health, Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley, California 94709-2176, USA.



This article considers the predictors of help-seeking behavior, and the types of help sought among the general population.


Longitudinal data are used, collected during in-person interviews with 2,234 (1190 female) individuals in 1984 and again in 1992. The focus is on help seeking during the follow-up interval, with an emphasis on baseline alcohol-related problems as predictors of seeking help for one's drinking over the 8-year period. Correlates of help seeking are shown separately for respondents who at baseline had already experienced, in their lifetime, three or more dependence-related symptoms, and those who had not.


Significant predictors of help seeking during the longitudinal follow-up period include male gender, younger age. Hispanic ethnicity, and having already (at baseline) experienced three or more alcohol-related social consequences. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the most frequent treatment experience that was reported among those seeking help during the study period.


Longstanding social consequences appear to play a key role in decisions to seek help for one's drinking, even when dependence-related symptoms are also considered. In this study Hispanics had an increased likelihood to seek help for their drinking (compared to whites), but blacks did not. AA continues to attract the largest number of help-seekers when compared to other alternatives.

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