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HHS HealthBeat (June 20, 2013)

The self-medicating drinker

HHS HealthBeat: Bottles of Alcohol

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From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

This isn’t social drinking. This is using alcohol as though it were a medication – for instance, to ease feelings of depression.

At the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Rosa Crum looked at national survey data on people who reported drinking like this in 2001 and 2002.  When they were re-interviewed in 2004 and 2005, their drinking was more likely to show signs of alcohol dependence – being addicted to alcohol:

“It indicates that drinking as a way to improve mood symptoms may increase the probability that alcohol dependence will develop.”

Crum says people who self-medicate should find other ways, and may need professional help.

The study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I’m Ira Dreyfuss.

Last revised: June 20, 2013