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Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2024-2028

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Encouraging a Whole Person, Integrated Approach to Health

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Alcohol misuse contributes to many acute and chronic health conditions, and impacts health in ways that individuals and health care providers may not realize. The relationship between alcohol and so many elements of health underscores the importance of addressing alcohol misuse in the context of whole person health. Whole person health looks at the connections across biological, behavioral, social, and environmental domains of health to address disease, and is supported by integrated approaches to care. For example, integrating alcohol screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment in routine health care can increase the chances that an alcohol-related problem is identified and addressed, and can help clinicians identify other physical and mental health-related issues affected by alcohol misuse.

Integrating treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) holds promise for promoting recovery from both conditions and for contributing to the long-term survival of patients. Using the integration of care between AUD and ALD as an example, future work should emphasize opportunities to integrate care for alcohol misuse and other pathophysiologies exacerbated or caused by alcohol, such as sleep disorders, pain, and stress- and mood-related disorders.

A better understanding of the mechanistic and clinical relationships between alcohol misuse and commonly co-occurring mental and physiological conditions could lead to novel, integrated strategies that improve the prevention of, early diagnosis of, treatment of, and long-term recovery from these conditions. Delving into the health determinants that influence these relationships will also provide valuable insights towards these goals. NIAAA encourages innovative basic, translational, and clinical research that enhances the understanding of whole person health and facilitates integrated care to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs.

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