AI Could Be A Game Changer For Predicting Unhealthy Alcohol Use

Drinking too much alcohol can have lasting effects on your health and on the lives of others. How many drinks count as too much alcohol? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking five or more drinks on an occasion for men and four or more drinks for women is defined as binge drinking. Heavy drinking is 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more drinks for women. Excessive drinking increases the risk of injuries, heart disease, and cancers, and leads to poor pregnancy outcomes.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that encompasses terms that may be more familiar to you such as alcoholism, alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse, and alcohol dependence. AUD is the inability to stop or control alcohol use even though you're fully aware of the adverse side effects and social consequences. AUD can affect the brain, making a person more likely to relapse following treatment. However, it turns out that artificial intelligence may be able to improve treatment outcomes for individuals with AUD.

Using AI during treatment for alcoholism can predict drinking relapses

In a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Yale researchers found that artificial intelligence (AI) may help providers and patients predict relapses before they happen, giving them a chance to adjust treatment (via US News & World Report). More than 1,300 American adults participated in a 16-week clinical trial to test the effects of machine learning, a form of AI, on alcohol relapse. The goal of the study was to create a set of models that could predict heavy drinking relapses during the first month of treatment, the final month of treatment, and between weekly and bi-weekly sessions.

The most important factors predicting relapses were the age that alcohol dependence began, liver enzyme levels, and data from patient surveys regarding drinking behaviors and psychological symptoms. Not only did researchers find that the use of the AI models is likely to predict the risk of relapses more accurately than clinicians, but they also noted that obtaining the data during treatment is relatively inexpensive, per US News & World Report.