Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why People Don’t Get Help for Alcohol Use

Alcohol misuse is common – more than 16 million US adults (about seven percent) have alcohol use disorder. Yet many people don’t get help.  Less than one in 10 people with alcohol use disorder receiving treatment, according to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Many people with alcohol use disorder don’t think they need treatment, yet even among people who believe they need treatment, only 15-30 percent receive treatment.  Researchers looking into why people don’t get treatment found barriers related to beliefs and attitude the biggest obstacle.

Among people who believe they need treatment, their attitudes are the most commonly reported barriers, according to research reported  in Psychiatric Services in Advance on August 3, 2015  Financial barriers (e.g., couldn’t afford it) and structural barriers (e.g., didn’t have time, didn’t know where to go) were cited much less frequently.

The top barriers to seeking help for alcohol problems were
I should be strong enough to handle it alone -  42%
The problem would get better by itself - 33%
Not serious enough to seek treatment  - 21%
Too embarrassed to discuss it - 19%

Previous research has identified some characteristics that make if more or less likely that people will seek treatment: unmarried people are more likely to get treatment than married people and men are more likely to get treatment than women.

One ongoing problem, the researchers note, is that many doctors are still uncomfortable asking about alcohol use.

Concerned about your own drinking?  See an online assessment from NIAAA and learn more problem drinking and getting help in Rethinking Drinking. Find help with SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Locator or 24-hour toll-free Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).

By Deborah Cohen, Senior Writer, American Psychiatric Association

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