New Study Finds One in Eight Americans Is an Alcoholic

New Study Finds One in Eight Americans Is an Alcoholic

New Study Finds One in Eight Americans Is an Alcoholic

The study found the most substantial increases among women, older adults, racial and ethnic minorities and individuals with lower levels of education and income. There were also increases in the rate of AUD among 12-month alcohol users (35.7%) and high-risk drinkers (17.2%).

And then there's problem drinking.

The study, sponsored by a federal agency for alcohol research, examined how drinking patterns changed between 2002 and 2013, based on in-person surveys of tens of thousands of US adults.

Heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, cancer and infections, and liver problems.

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

The fact that many of these groups are less likely to have health coverage is "particularly alarming", University of California San Diego professor Marc Schuckit wrote in an accompanying editorial. 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.

Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, heavy drinking increased across all demographic groups. This is especially true among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, according to the JAMA Psychiatry study. Stunningly, almost 1 in 4 adults under age 30 (23.4 percent) met the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.

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And among older adults, abuse and dependence more than doubled.

In the first survey, 65.4 percent of Americans reported that they drink alcohol; in the second survey, that number climbed to 72.7 percent.

Though the nation's focus may be turned to the deadly opioid epidemic, a new study has discovered that the use of another prevalent drug is also on the rise: alcohol. But after that point, drinking rates started to rise significantly, with high-risk drinking rising slightly. Among black people, it increased by 92.8 percent. But a 2013 study found that alcoholic beverages are more affordable in the United States now than at any time since 1950.

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. 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.

Hasin and colleagues found that the rate of alcohol use in the USA was 65 percent in 2001-2002, and by 2012-2013 it had increased to 73 percent.

The study's findings, the authors wrote, "herein highlight the urgency of educating the public, policymakers, and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and AUD, 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".

There "is and always has been" a lack of awareness regarding the health dangers of drinking excessively, Schuckit says.

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