New Study Finds One in Eight Americans Is an Alcoholic

High-risk alcohol use has increased significantly since 2002 study finds

The numbers reveal "a public health crisis", the authors say.

If you find yourself reaching for a glass of rosé or a dirty martini after the end of a long work-week (or workday), you're definitely not alone.

"High risk" drinking has increased on pace with alcohol abuse, swelling from 9.7 percent of the population in 2002-2003 to 13.7 percent of the population in 2012-2013.

New research suggests more people are drinking and abusing alcohol in the U.S.

'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.

An estimated 1 out of every 8 Americans struggles with an alcohol disorder.

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. High-risk drinking and AUD, for instance, increased for women by 57.9% and 83.7%, respectively - compared with increases of just 15.5% and 34.7% for men.

The new findings are based on face-to-face interviews with nationally representative samples of adults in 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. But after that point, drinking rates started to rise significantly, with high-risk drinking rising slightly. The increases were especially steep for women, minorities and those over 65 (see graph).

"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. The number of adults who suffered from an alcohol abuse or dependence grew from 17.6 million to 29.9 million over that decade.

Risky alcohol use did increase in the men who were surveyed, but not to the same extent that it did for the other groups.

From 65 percent in the early 2000s, up to 73 percent by 2013. Heavy alcohol use may also be contributing to a slowdown in the decline of death rates from cardiovascular diseases.

"Unemployment, residential segregation, discrimination, decreased access to health care, and increased stigma associated with drinking" are all things that could play a role in the shift, according to the study. In adults 65 or older, meanwhile, high-risk drinkers went up 65 percent and alcohol dependency more than doubled.

The study didn't just track alcohol abuse. In fact, there are more people like you now than in the past. 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.

Several populations surveyed showed particularly striking changes in alcohol use. "Clearly, alcohol does not get the necessary attention given the problems it causes", says Rehm. The study used a clinical definition of alcoholism, which they described as, "High-risk drinking demanded 5 drinks per occasion for men (4 for women) at least weekly, with a standard drink defined as 14 g of ethanol, and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) were defined by the DSM-IV".

M. Schuckit. Remarkable increases in alcohol use disorders.

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