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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Applicability of Type A/B alcohol dependence in the general population

  • Author(s): Tam, TW
  • Mulia, N
  • Schmidt, LA
  • et al.

Background: This study examined the concurrent and predictive validity of Type A/B alcohol dependence in the general population-a typology developed in clinical populations to gauge severity of dependence. Methods: Data were drawn from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). The sample included 1,172 alcohol-dependent drinkers at baseline who were reinterviewed three years later. Latent class analysis was used to derive Type A/B classification using variables replicating the original Type A/B typology. Predictive validity of the Type A/B classification was assessed by multivariable linear and logistic regressions. Results: A two-class solution consistent with Babor's original Type A/B typology adequately fit the data. Type B alcoholics in the general population, compared to Type As, had higher alcohol severity and more co-occurring drug, mental, and physical health problems. In the absence of treatment services utilization, Type B drinkers had two times the odds of being alcohol dependent three years later. Among those who utilized alcohol treatment services, Type B membership was predictive of heavy drinking and drug dependence, but not alcohol dependence, three years later. Conclusions: Findings suggest that Type A/B classification is both generalizable to, and valid within, the US general population of alcohol dependent drinkers. Results highlight the value of treatment for mitigating the persistence of dependence among Type B alcoholics in the general population. Screening for markers of vulnerability to Type B dependence could be of clinical value for health care providers to determine appropriate intervention. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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