Alcohol Abuse Among Americans on the Rise

Barsaba Taglieri
Agosto 10, 2017

Over an 11-year period, alcohol use, abuse and alcohol-related disorders increased for the USA population across all sociodemographic groups, with higher instances of drinking especially among women, older adults, minorities and those with low levels of education and income.

High-risk drinking among US adults increased about 30 percent between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, according to a new study that called the proportion Americans developing alcohol dependence a "public health crisis".

"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 study authors wrote.

Within this increase, the researchers found that 29.9 percent more Americans are engaging in high-risk drinking, from 20.2 million in 2001-2002 to 29.6 million in 2012-2013.

"Most important, the findings herein highlight the urgency of educating the public, policymakers and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and AUD [alcohol use disorder], destigmatizing these conditions and encouraging those who can not reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment", they wrote.

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about alcohol.

The new findings are based on face-to-face interviews with nationally representative samples of adults in 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.

Of the findings, alcohol use in the USA increased by 65.4 percent to 72.7 percent over the 11-year period. Drinking more than four or five alcoholic beverages in one sitting also increased from about 10 percent to about 13 percent, researchers found.

The proportion of adults using alcohol during the previous year increased from about 65 percent to about 73 percent over the study period. Looking at the total population, it represents an increase of nearly half, at 49.4 percent.

In addition, the investigators found that rates of alcohol use disorder - sometimes called "alcoholism" - rose from 8.5 percent (about 18 million people) in 2001-2002 to 13 percent, or almost 30 million people, in 2012-2013.

Increases in rates of alcohol use, high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder were greatest among women, the study authors found.

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