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Am J Public Health. 1995 Jan;85(1):55-60.

Trends in the treatment of alcohol problems in the US general population, 1979 through 1990.

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Alcohol Research Group, California Pacific Medical Research Institute, Berkeley.

Erratum in

  • Am J Public Health 1996 Mar;86(3):331.



The purpose of this study was to conduct a comprehensive analysis of alcohol-treatment service utilization trends in the general population during the 1980s.


Three national surveys of the US household population (1979, 1984, and 1990) were used for trend analysis of treatment utilization. Trends in demographic characteristics of persons with lifetime treatment rates and particular types of treatment were examined by means of logistic regression analysis, controlling for alcohol problem severity and other variables.


Substantial increases in the numbers reporting treatment were found. In all surveys, Alcoholics Anonymous was the treatment used most frequently and its use increased most, especially for women. Men were more likely than women (odds ratio [OR] = 2.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.20, 5.39) and unmarried persons were twice as likely as married persons to have been treated [corrected]. Social consequences carried more predictive power than dependence symptoms.


From a general population perspective, while overall treatment capacity has increased, the structural changes in the public/private balance of services have not positively affected the representation of women or other characteristics of the treatment population.

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