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’Alcoholic’ Stigma Keeps Many Problem Drinkers From Seeking Treatment

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New research indicates more than 60 percent of Americans with drinking problems do not seek help due to the stigma of alcoholism, UPI reported Dec. 5.

Investigators led by Dr. Katherine Keyes of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health looked at National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) responses from more than 6,300 participants who met criteria for an alcohol use disorder.

According to their findings, problem drinkers who perceived a stigma associated with alcohol abuse — fully two-thirds of the sample — were less likely to seek treatment than those who did not.

This was especially true among men, racial and ethnic minorities, and participants with lower income and education.

“Given that alcohol use disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the United States, the empirical documentation of stigma as a barrier to treatment is an important public health finding,” said Keyes.

Stigma reduction should be integrated into public health efforts to promote alcohol treatment, the authors concluded.

The findings were published in the December issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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