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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Heavy alcohol use in the general population, especially among late adolescents and young adults, is highly prevalent and associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, such as unintentional injury and sexually transmitted infections, as well as fetal injury in pregnant women. Although heavy consumption tends to decrease as individuals age, the cumulative effect of alcohol exposure increases risk for some forms of cancer, gastrointestinal disease, dementing illnesses, and other serious conditions. Alcohol use can also interfere with treatments for medical illnesses via drug interactions and poor compliance with prescribed treatments. Against this backdrop of considerable health burden associated with alcohol use in the population are findings that, at least among certain subgroups of the population, there are health benefits of moderate consumption. Additionally, alcohol use disorders (AUDs; alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence), are among the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States and elsewhere. AUDs are frequently comorbid with other psychological disorders which in themselves have important implications for health. A number of approaches to the prevention and treatment of problematic alcohol use have been developed and are effective. Some of these can be employed during primary care visits or other contacts with health professionals (e.g., emergency room visits).

Keywords: Alcohol consumption, alcohol use disorders, assessment, comorbidity, epidemiology, medical illnesses, treatment

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