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Duration of functionally limiting alcohol/drug problem: Number of units

Codes and Frequencies

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For Sample Adults age 18+ who, without using special equipment, had any difficulty with one or more functional activities (FLANY), and for whom an alcohol or drug problem was reported as a condition causing a functional activity limitation (FLALC), FLALCNO reports the number of time units the respondent stated when reporting the duration of the alcohol or drug problem.

Data on the duration of the limiting alcohol or drug problem were collected via the question, "How long have you had [an alcohol or drug problem]?" Respondents could answer this open-ended question using the time unit of their choice (i.e., days, weeks, months, years, or since birth). The original responses to the question are reported in two complementary variables, FLALCTP (which specifies the time unit) and FLALCNO (which reports the number of such units). As noted in the Codebooks for 1997 forward, "years are topcoded at 85." For the NHIS public use files, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recoded the results from these two variables to create two other variables using standard time units: years (FLALCY) and groups of months (FLALCMO).

The 1997 forward NHIS Survey Descriptions caution that because the ad hoc classified condition categories (such as an "alcohol or drug problem" FLALC) were not included on flashcards given to respondents during the course of the interview, it is possible that weighted frequencies for these conditions may be underestimated. Thus, the NCHS recommends that "these variables should be analyzed with care."


The variable is completely comparable over time.


  • 1997-2013; 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018: Sample adults age 18+ who have difficulty with activities due to alcohol or drug problems.


  • 1997-2018