Penn State Study Finds Five Types Of Problem Drinking

Dec 4, 2018

A new Penn State study found there are five types of problem drinking that mostly align with certain age groups. 

The study aimed to find how alcohol use disorder differs for people at different ages. Using data from about 5,400 participants aged 18 to 64, researchers found five “profiles” of problem drinking.

“The goal of this paper was to identify what hidden subgroups there are so that people can use this information to personalize intervention based on their age and other characteristics,” head researcher Ashley Linden-Carmichael said.

Linden-Carmichael is an assistant research professor in Penn State’s department of Biobehavioral Health.

The strongest correlation between age and drinking was for adults between 50 and 60. They were most likely to fall into the “difficulty cutting back” class.

Young adults were most likely to fall into the “adverse effects only” group, marked by drinking too much and experiencing hangovers.  

However, the “highly problematic, low perceived life interference” group is also of special concern for young people. In this category, drinkers report multiple symptoms of alcohol use disorder, but claim drinking doesn’t interfere with their lives.

“This might be a really important class to look at because these might be the kids who unfortunately are not maturing out of their heavy drinking when they’re graduating from college,” Linden-Carmichael said.