Measuring alcohol abuse in the community: consumption, binge-drinking, and alcohol-related consequences ("alcoholism").
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This study reported and compared community health indicators for the measurement of alcohol abuse. Using data from the 1989 Hamilton-Wentworth Health Survey, similar rates were found for four differing definitions of alcohol abuse: 1) drinking everyday (5.7%, 95% confidence limit (CL) = 3.8-7.7%), 2) drinking at least 14 drinks in the past seven days (12.1%, 95% CL = 9.2-15.1%), 3) frequent binging on 10 drinks or more (9.4%, 95% CL = 6.9-11.8%), and 4) "alcoholism" as defined by the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST) (7.4%, 95% CL = 5.1-9.7%). Binging on five drinks or more occurred frequently (37.0, 95% CL = 32.8-41.1%). All indicators of alcohol abuse from the survey were significantly higher for males as compared to females (p < 0.05), and demonstrated varying distributions by age. Estimates of drinking consumption based on the sale of alcoholic beverages in the community were also examined and found to estimate consumption levels nearly double that of the self-reported survey data. Relevance to public health planning and monitoring is discussed.
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