ABSTRACT: Current efforts underway to develop the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) have reignited discussions for classifying the substance use disorders. This study's aim was to contribute to the understanding of abusive alcohol use and its validity as a diagnosis. Cluster analysis was used to identify relatively homogeneous groups of hazardous, nondependent drinkers by using data collected from the Prevention and Treatment of Hypertension Study (PATHS), a multisite trial that examined the ability of a cognitive-behavioral-based alcohol reduction intervention, compared to a control condition, to reduce alcohol use. Participants for this study (N = 511) were male military veterans. Variables theoretically associated with alcohol use (eg, demographic, tobacco use, and mental health) were used to create the clusters and a priori, empirically based external criteria were used to assess discriminant validity. Bivariate correlations among cluster variables were generally consistent with previous findings in the literature. Analyses of internal and discriminant validity of the identified clusters were largely nonsignificant, suggesting meaningful differences between clusters could not be identified. Although the typology literature has contributed supportive validity for the alcohol dependence diagnosis, this study's results do not lend supportive validity for the construct of alcohol abuse.
American Journal on Addictions 07/2012; 21(4):335-42. · 1.74 Impact Factor