1 in 8 Americans struggle with alcohol disorder

Americans, Especially Women, Are Drinking Alcohol More Frequently Now

Americans, Especially Women, Are Drinking Alcohol More Frequently Now

Heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, cancer and infections, and liver problems. The study also found that women and African-Americans saw more than 90 percent increases in alcohol use disorders.

The findings suggest "a public health crisis", the researchers say, given the fact that high-risk drinking is linked to a number of diseases and psychiatric problems, as well as violence, crime and crashes.

The authors defined high-risk drinking as regular consumption of four drinks of alcohol a day for women or five for men.

Alcohol dependency, meanwhile, surged 50 percent.

High-risk drinking was defined as imbibing four or more standard drinks (a drink equals 14 grams of pure alcohol) on any day for women and as drinking five or more standard drinks on any day for men. Their findings were published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

Between 2001 to 2002 and 2012 to 2013, 12-month alcohol use overall increased from 65.4% to 72.7% of the total population, a relative increase of 11.2%, the study discovered. The results came from face-to-face interviews with nationally representative samples of adults in 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.

And among older adults, abuse and dependence more than doubled. The rate of high-risk drinking stood at 10 percent (20 million people) in 2001-2002.

But high-risk and problem drinking increased far more dramatically. This is especially true among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.

An estimated 1 out of every 8 Americans struggles with an alcohol disorder. Their data showed that when freshmen college students were exposed to the risks of heavy drinking, their alcohol use was lower than those who were not. 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.

But in women, those categories jumped 60 percent and 84 percent, respectively. Death rates from cirrhosis increased between 2009 and 2013, which hasn't happened since the early 1970s, she says. And it's worrying, because older adults at are a high risk of death, injury or disease connected to alcohol use - from falls, for instance, or from adverse interactions between drugs and drinking.

These biggest increases were seen among women, older adults, minority groups, and people with low education or income levels.

The study didn't just track alcohol abuse. "If something's cheaper, we buy more", says Jürgen Rehm, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. By 2013, almost three-quarters of American adults said they had consumed alcohol within the previous year.

Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, left, and NIAAA scientist Dr. Lorenzo Leggio at a research laboratory inside the National Institutes of Health's hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, in December 2014. For instance, excessive drinking cost the country about $250 billion, mostly due to health costs. "Clearly, alcohol does not get the necessary attention given the problems it causes", says Rehm.

The research team, lead by Dr Bridget Grant, compared survey data about alcohol use over two year-long periods, from 2001-2002, and 2012-2013, to compare the change over time.

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