Al­co­hol con­sump­tion rates rise

Pub­lic health cri­sis pos­si­ble, say ex­perts

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LAURA KELLY

Amer­i­cans, es­pe­cially women and mi­nori­ties, are drink­ing more al­co­hol amid a pub­lic health cri­sis that is be­ing over­shad­owed by the opi­oid epi­demic and the de­bate over le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana, a new Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health study says.

Over a 11-year pe­riod, re­searchers found in­creased al­co­hol use, abuse and disor­ders in all U.S. de­mo­graphic groups, with higher in­stances among women, older adults, mi­nori­ties and those with low lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion and in­come.

The study was con­ducted by the Na­tional In­sti­tute on Al­co­hol Abuse and Al­co­holism, and was pub­lished Wed­nes­day in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion Psy­chi­a­try.

“The ac­tual preva­lence of both al­co­hol use, high-risk drink­ing and par­tic­u­larly al­co­hol use disor­ders is much larger than the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem for opi­oids or mar­i­juana,” said Dr. Brid­get Grant, the study’s lead au­thor. “Even though all of those in­creases are very im­por­tant — for al­co­hol and other sub­stances — some­times al­co­hol may get over­shad­owed, even though it is a more highly preva­lent drug and is af­fect­ing 30 mil­lion peo­ple.”

Dr. Grant said the prob­lem is likely much larger, as peo­ple tend to un­der-re­port their drink­ing habits in stud­ies where they are re­spon­si­ble for self-re­port­ing.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t like to talk about [drink­ing prob­lems], and they just say they don’t have any prob­lems or they don’t drink so much. But if these num­bers are an un­der­es­ti­ma­tion, than they’re whomp­ing,” she said. “The un­der­es­ti­ma­tion be­cause of self re­port — if that is true — than these num­bers are just the tip of the ice­berg.”

Us­ing a na­tion­ally rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple, re­searchers sur­veyed about 40,000 peo­ple aged 18 and over in face-to-face in­ter­views, mak­ing their find­ings ap­pli­ca­ble to the larger U.S. pop­u­la­tion.

The data, from 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, were used to eval­u­ate par­tic­i­pants’ lev­els of al­co­hol use, high-risk drink­ing and al­co­hol abuse.

High-risk drink­ing was de­fined as four or more drinks on any day for women, five or more drinks for men and how many times peo­ple ex­ceeded those stan­dards weekly in a year.

Al­co­hol use in­creased from 65.4 per­cent in 2001-2002 to 72.7 per­cent in 2012-2013, ac­cord­ing to the study.

The re­searchers de­ter­mined 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.

The study found that al­co­hol use dis­or­der in­creased by 49.9 per­cent, from 17.9 mil­lion Amer­i­cans meet­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal clin­i­cal cri­te­ria for the dis­ease in 2001-2002 to 29.9 mil­lion Amer­i­cans in 2012-2013.

In­creases in al­co­hol abuse were great­est among women (83.7 per­cent), adults aged 45 to 64 years old (81.5 per­cent and 106.7 per­cent, re­spec­tively), African-Amer­i­cans (92.8 per­cent) and peo­ple who make less than $20,000 a year (65.9 per­cent).

Dr. Grant ex­plained that the 2008 re­ces­sion is be­lieved to be the great­est con­trib­u­tor to the in­creas­ing rates of al­co­hol abuse across most groups.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.