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Alcohol Use Disorder as the ‘Elephant in the Room’: The Changing Conversation Around Alcohol in the United States

Available: January 1, 2024 - January 1, 2027


On February 1, 2024, the course will be available for purchase.



Alcohol misuse and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are endemic societal problems that have been willingly absorbed into the social fabric of our society for generations. They cause an enormous amount of medical pathology, human suffering, loss of productivity and cost to our medical care system and the nation’s economy. Alcohol misuse accounts for 30 million individuals with alcohol use disorder, 5% of cancers, 50% of liver disease deaths, and up to 25 % of pancreatitis. While efforts to employ screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment have successfully initiated screening in many situations, brief intervention and referral to treatment remain underused. Missed screening opportunities especially for some subgroups and the more widespread lack of follow up after screening contribute to a significant treatment gap: less than 10% of individuals in need of treatment receive treatment for AUD. Less than 2% receive one of the three FDA approved and effective medications for treatment of AUD. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some long-neglected drivers of AUD: increased drinking to cope with stress, interaction of alcohol with mental health, the role of alcohol in women’s health, alcohol and health in older adults, and understanding recovery from AUD. The good news is that a cultural change is underway as highlighted by movements to reevaluate our relationship with alcohol such as Dry January, Sober October, and the broader Sober Curious movement. Underage drinking has steadily declined for the past 20 years. Current NIAAA priorities and challenges include providing resources for the public to facilitate prevention among young adults (College Aim), to help individuals evaluate their own relationship with alcohol (Rethinking Drinking), and to assist those seeking treatment (NIAAA Treatment Navigator). Also, the Healthcare Professional Core Resource on Alcohol, launched in 2022, provides healthcare professionals with evidence-based knowledge and resources to address alcohol misuse in clinical practice. An operational definition of recovery has been formulated to facilitate evidence-based research on the factors that promote recovery. Efforts are underway to facilitate the development of individualized treatment for AUD with an emphasis on a harm reduction framework. Challenges that remain include expanding the uptake of screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT), exploring and expanding a role for telehealth in treatment, addressing stigma, addressing diversity, equity and health disparities in the alcohol field, and developing the next generation of alcohol researchers. Addressing such challenges will facilitate the implementation of evidence-based diagnosis, prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorder and will significantly improve health and reduce health care costs.


Recorded webinar, non-interactive, self-paced distance learning activity.

This presentation was recorded at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting 2023. 

Learning Objectives

  • Define the negative consequences of alcohol misuse
  • Identify positive societal changes related to alcohol consumption
  • Describe drivers of AUD and alcohol misuse amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic

Target Audience


Estimated Time to Complete

Estimated Duration: 90 minutes
Begin Date: January 1, 2024
End Date: January 1, 2027

How to Earn Credit

Participants who wish to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™ or a certificate of participation may do so by completing all sections of the course including the evaluation. After evaluating the program, course participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians) or certificate of participation (non-physicians) showing the event date and hours earned.

Continuing Education Credit

In support of improving patient care, the American Psychiatric Association is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.


The APA designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Faculty and Planner Disclosures

The American Psychiatric Association adheres to the ACCME’s Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CME activity — including faculty, planners, reviewers or others — are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (commercial interests). All relevant conflicts of interest have been mitigated prior to the commencement of the activity.

Program Presenters

  • George F. Koob, Ph.D., National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests.
  • Vikas Gupta, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests.

Program Planners

  • Vishal Madaan, MD, Chief of Education and Deputy Medical Director, APA. Reports no financial relationships with commercial interests.

Accessibility for Participants with Disabilities

The American Psychiatric Association is committed to ensuring accessibility of its website to people with disabilities. If you have trouble accessing any of APA’s online resources, please contact us at 202-559-3900 for assistance.

Technical Requirements

This internet-based CME activity is best experienced using any of the following:

  • The latest and 2nd latest public versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari
  • Internet Explorer 11+

This Web site requires that JavaScript and session cookies be enabled. Certain activities may require additional software to view multimedia, presentation, or printable versions of the content. These activities will be marked as such and will provide links to the required software. That software may be: Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Windows Media Player.

Optimal System Configuration:

  • Browser: Google Chrome (latest and 2nd latest version), Safari (latest and 2nd latest version), Internet Explorer 11.0+, Firefox (latest and 2nd latest version), or Microsoft Edge (latest and 2nd latest version)
  • Operating System: Windows versions 8.1+, Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) +, Android (latest and 2nd latest version), or iOS/iPad OS (latest and 2nd latest version)
  • Internet Connection: 1 Mbps or higher

Minimum Requirements:

  • Windows PC: Windows 8.1 or higher; 1 GB (for 32-bit)/2 GB (for 64-bit) or higher RAM; Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content
  • Macintosh: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher with latest updates installed; Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor; 512 MB or higher RAM; audio playback with speakers for programs with video content

For assistance: Contact for questions about this activity | Contact for technical assistance

Availability: On-Demand
Expires on Jan 01, 2027
Cost: Member: $18.75
Non-Member: $37.50
Medical Student: $18.75
Resident Fellow Member: $18.75
Credit Offered:
1.5 CME Credits
1.5 COP Credits
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