Having one drink a day increases risk of alcohol use disorder: Study

May 16, 2024

According to the results of a new research study published in the journal Addiction, the consumption of one alcoholic drink per day, such as a large beer, triples the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD) compared to non-drinkers. Moreover, the results of the study also showed that having one alcoholic drink per day doubles the risk of dying from AUD.

The study was a collaboration between researchers from Toronto’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, University of Toronto, and Heidelberg University. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to describe the risk relationships between alcohol use, AUD, and AUD mortality, which are imperative for understanding the harmful effects of alcohol consumption and preventing associated harms,” states the research article.

The research carried out was a meta-analysis of other studies published between January 2000 and July 2022 on alcohol use, AUD incidence, and mortality, using relevant search terms and no language restrictions. Alcohol consumption was evaluated in terms of grams of pure alcohol per day.

 “In conclusion, there is a clear dose–response relationship between levels of alcohol consumption and the risk of AUD incidence and mortality. Further research is needed to validate and explore these risks, particularly regarding subgroup analyses, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of AUD incidence and mortality in relation to alcohol consumption levels and patterns. This will have important implications for public health and policy implementation,” concluded the authors.

The results of the 2021 Canadian Community Health Survey show that 18% of Canadians aged 15 years or older will meet the clinical criteria for an AUD in their lifetime. Meanwhile, Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health published by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction in 2023 shows that over 50% of individuals aged 15 years or older currently drink more than the amount recommended (2 standard drinks per week or less). In addition, the guideline provides recommendations for the clinical management of high-risk drinking and AUD to support primary health care providers to implement evidence-based screening and treatment interventions. Specifically, the guideline instructs healthcare practitioner how to ask about alcohol, diagnose AUD, manage alcohol withdrawal, and create treatment plans based on the individual’s goals. Such treatment plans can include medications, counselling, harm reduction, or a combination of these strategies.