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Drinking on the rise in United States, especially for women, minorities, older adults
12 August 2017, 01:50 | Melissa Porter
Americans, Especially Women, Are Drinking Alcohol More Frequently Now
But what's even more concerning is that "high-risk drinking" increased by nearly 30%, meaning more people were finding themselves having four or five - or more - drinks per day at least once a week. The numbers reveal "a public health crisis", the authors say. Problem drinking increased by an even greater percentage, and women, racial minorities, older adults and the poor saw particularly large spikes.
The study data were derived from face-to-face interviews conducted in two nationally representative surveys of US adults: the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, with data collected from April 2001 to June 2002, and the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III, with data collected from April 2012 to June 2013.
Problems with alcohol increased by almost 50 percent. Some high-risk drinkers could also fall into this alcohol use disorder category.
The new findings are based on face-to-face interviews with nationally representative samples of adults in 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.
Researchers noted that survey respondents who noted that they had these disorders are likely to carry future health care costs and be more at risk for cancer, cardiac disease, and other serious disorders associated with heavy drinking. High-risk drinking grew from 9.7 percent to 12.6 percent. This is especially true among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged. Unlike high-risk drinking, which is defined by an amount of alcohol consumed, alcohol use disorder is classified according to psychological criteria. The disorder is determined by such symptoms as alcohol interfering with a person's home or work life, suffering withdrawal symptoms after abstaining from alcohol and being unable to cut down on or stop drinking, among others. The jump for adults 65 and older was 106.7 percent, 83.7 percent for women, 51.9 percent for Hispanics and 92.8 percent for blacks.
Though the study's authors note that their findings have some limitations - they did not survey anyone from homeless or incarcerated populations, for instance, which could mean they potentially underestimated the overall rates of alcohol use - the study notes that its findings are in line with other similar research. In the new study, the authors found that deaths from alcohol-related cirrhosis rose dramatically between 2009 and 2013 for the first time since the 1970s. Heavy alcohol use may also be contributing to a slowdown in the decline of death rates from cardiovascular diseases. But a 2013 study found that alcoholic beverages are more affordable in the United States now than at any time since 1950. Alcohol is widely available and advertisements send the message that "you cannot imagine that anybody can exist without alcohol", he says.
So, what exactly is binge drinking? 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. "Policymakers and health professionals need to be aware of this, too".
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication).
Psychotherapist Alexis Michael joined Morning Dose on Thursday and said it's because women are catching up with men. The rate of high-risk drinking stood at 10 percent (20 million people) in 2001-2002.
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