Americans, Especially Women, Are Drinking Alcohol More Frequently Now

High-risk drinking increases substantially among some groups in the US, study says

High-risk drinking increases substantially among some groups in the US, study says

Problem drinking increased by an even greater percentage, and women, racial minorities, older adults and the poor saw particularly large spikes.

High-risk drinking rose about 30% between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.

- Continued drinking despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to be caused or exacerbated by drinking.

The researchers said the rate at which Americans are developing alcohol dependence could be considered a public health crisis.

Heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, cancer and infections, and liver problems. Deborah Hasin, the study's lead author and a professor at Columbia University, noted that while light drinking has been helpful for people's health overall, heavy drinking can often lead to some harms and impairment.

The study found high-risk drinking among US adults spiked about 30 percent between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. The number of adults who suffered from an alcohol abuse or dependence grew from 17.6 million to 29.9 million over that decade.

"Once you get into the more heavy drinking ranges, the probability is you're cutting five to 10 years off people's lives", says Marc Schuckit, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. This is especially true among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

"The results of this study call for a broader effort to address the individual, biological, environmental and societal factors that influence high-risk drinking and [alcohol use disorder] and their considerable consequences and economic costs to society ($250 billion) to improve the health, safety and well-being of the nation", the authors, Bridget F. Grant, S. Patricia Chou and Tulshi D. Saha, wrote in the study.

Of course, alcohol is one hundred percent legal, while marijuana, which is not addictive and isn't almost as harmful to people's health (in fact, it has health benefits), is illegal.

And among older adults, abuse and dependence more than doubled. This heavy drinking is defined as consuming more than the daily guidelines - five or more drinks per occasion for men, four or more for women - at least once a week.

In the first survey, 65.4 percent of Americans reported that they drink alcohol; in the second survey, that number climbed to 72.7 percent. But after that point, drinking rates started to rise significantly, with high-risk drinking rising slightly. Rates of AUD, for instance, increased by 92.8% for African-Americans, and by 65.9% for those earning $20,000 or less.

A new study found the rates of alcohol abuse are increasing in the United States, particularly among specific demographic groups.

'These increases constitute a public health crisis that may have been overshadowed by increases in much less prevalent substance use (marijuana, opiates and heroin) during the same period, ' the authors said. In Canada, there is a minimum price for alcohol, and when that price has gone up, health problems and hospitalizations related to alcohol have gone down, he says. Plus, the authors also highlighted the financial burden that's associated with heavy drinkers.

"Policymakers and health professionals need to be aware of this, too", she added. Prevalence of 12-month alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder in the United States, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013.

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