New Drinking Study Causes Concern

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The drinking culture in America is changing…for the worse.

A research study published in JAMA Psychiatry compared two large studies where American adults self-reported their drinking behaviors. The first study was conducted from 2001 to 2002 and compared to a recent study from 2012 to 2013.

Overall, Americans who reported they drank at least once in a year-long period increased by 11 percent. High-risk drinking, meaning drinking four or more beverages per day at least once a week for women and five or more for men, increased by 30 percent. One of the most concerning finds – alcohol use disorders, more commonly referred to as alcoholism, increased by almost 50 percent.

Honing in on gender demographics, women had some of the greatest increases. High-risk consumption increased by 60 percent among them and alcohol use disorder rose 84 percent. In a news article, 2017 National Leadership Forum speaker George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said: “The gap between women and men drinking has decreased. It used to be quite large.” From a cultural standpoint, Koob says he isn’t concerned about the increase in women’s alcohol consumption. However, women are particularly vulnerable to the physiological effects of alcohol, due to biological make-up.

In terms of age, researchers found that adults ages 65 years and older have seen a larger increase in alcohol consumption, with high-risk drinking rising by 65 percent and alcohol use disorders soaring to nearly 107 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the long-term health effects of heavy drinking include:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems and unemployment

Data states that there is a stigma when discussing substance use and abuse. Researchers note that one solution may be more health care providers talking to their clients about drinking in a nonjudgmental way to help combat the problem.

Source: Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America

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