Prevalence and correlates of DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence in Australia: findings of the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing


Maree Teesson, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia. E-mail:


Aims  To report nationally representative data on the prevalence and correlates (including psychiatric comorbidity and treatment) of DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence in Australian adults.

Design  The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB).

Setting  Australian nationally representative household survey.

Participants  8841 Australian adults (16–85 years).

Measurements  Interview schedule that assessed symptoms of the most prevalent DSM-IV mental disorders in the life-time and the past 12 months.

Findings  Prevalence of life-time and 12-month disorders was 18.3% and 2.9% for alcohol abuse and 3.9% and 1.4% for alcohol dependence. Current alcohol abuse and dependence was significantly more common in males and younger adults. There were significant associations between current alcohol use and other drug use disorders (OR 18.2) and between anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorders (OR 2.6). Only 22.4% of those with alcohol use disorders were treated for their alcohol disorder.

Conclusions  Alcohol use disorders are highly prevalent, especially among young adult males. Comorbidity between anxiety and other drug use disorders is common and remains a significant challenge for the delivery of effective health-care services and treatment. The low rate of effective interventions for alcohol problems is a significant public health concern.