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Drinking Status Between Ages 50 and 55 for Men From the San Diego Prospective Study Who Developed DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse or Dependence in Prior Follow-Ups.



Although alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are prevalent among older individuals, few studies have examined the course and predictors of AUDs from their onset into the person's 50s. This study describes the AUD course from ages 50 to 55 in participants who developed AUDs according to criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), during the San Diego Prospective Study (SDPS).


Among the 397 university students in the SDPS who were followed about every 5 years from age 20 (before AUD onset), 165 developed AUDs, 156 of whom were interviewed at age 55. Age 50-55 outcomes were compared regarding age 20-50 characteristics. Variables that differed significantly across outcome groups were evaluated using binary logistic regression analyses predicting each outcome type.


Between ages 50 and 55, 16% had low-risk drinking, 36% had high-risk drinking, 38% met DSM-5 AUD criteria, and 10% were abstinent. Baseline predictors of outcome at ages 50-55 included earlier low levels of response to alcohol predicting DSM-5 AUDs and abstinence, higher drinking frequency predicting DSM-5 diagnoses and lower predicting low-risk drinking, higher participation in treatment and/or self-help groups predicting abstinence and lower predicting DSM-5 AUDs, later ages of AUD onset predicting high-risk drinking, and cannabis use disorders predicting abstinent outcomes.


Despite the high functioning of these men, few were abstinent or maintained low-risk drinking during the recent 5 years, and 38% met DSM-5 AUD criteria. The data may be helpful to both clinicians and researchers predicting the future course of AUDs in their older patients and research participants.

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