Individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) frequently utilize health care and receive screening for alcohol use, but few are referred to or receive treatment, according to a study published online May 16 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Carrie M. Mintz, M.D., from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues used data from the 2015 to 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to assess gaps in care for individuals with AUD.
The researchers found that the weighted prevalence of AUD was 7.8 percent among the 214,505 persons included in the sample. The majority of individuals with AUD utilized health care in the previous 12 months and were screened for alcohol use (81.4 and 69.9 percent, respectively). A minority of individuals received subsequent steps of care, including receiving a brief intervention, referral to treatment, and receiving treatment (11.6, 5.1, and 5.8 percent, respectively). When cascades of care were stratified by AUD severity, similar patterns were observed.
“Ambulatory care settings—the most commonly used form of health care for persons with AUD—represent a prime opportunity to implement point-of-care AUD treatment to improve outcomes in this high-risk population,” the authors write.