According to a new national survey, public awareness of problem drinking is extremely low.

A report generated from the survey and released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights the need to raise awareness about adult problem drinking.

Researchers randomly polled approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older. Scientists looked at those who met the diagnostic criteria for either alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence as defined by the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

Drinking behavior that may cause a person to place themselves or others in danger; get into trouble with the law; experience difficulties in relationships or jobs; and fail to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home is defined as alcohol abuse.

According to the survey, 7.4 million adults aged 21 to 64 have an untreated alcohol abuse disorder. Of this, only 1.2 percent perceived they could benefit from treatment.

Alcohol dependence is a more serious disorder than alcohol abuse and includes addiction to alcohol, an inability to cut down or stop drinking, and repeated interpersonal, school, or work-related problems that can be directly attributed to the use of alcohol.

Alcohol dependence can have serious consequences, affecting an individual’s health and personal life, as well as impacting society at large.

Among the nearly six million Americans aged 21 to 64 with untreated alcohol dependence, only 7.8 percent or 506,000 of them recognized they needed treatment.

The report discusses how to identify when someone has a problem, how to confront a problem drinker and how to get help.

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)