A significant increase in heavy drinking since the early 2000s is tantamount to a “public health crisis,” researchers concluded in a new study published last week in JAMA Psychiatry.
Researchers noticed especially sharp increases among women, racial and ethnic minorities, older adults and those who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
Using data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, researchers found that 8.5 percent of adults in the U.S. suffered from “alcohol use disorder” in 2001-02. That percentage increased to nearly 13 percent of all adults a decade later.
During the same time period, high risk drinking, which is defined as having five drinks per occasion for men or four for women at least weekly, increased from 9.7 percent to 12.6 percent.
Meanwhile, adults who drank any alcohol in a 12-month period increased from 65.4 percent in 2001-02 to 72.7 percent in 2012-13.
“Taken together, these findings portend increases in many chronic comorbidities in which alcohol use has a substantial role,” the researchers wrote. “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 cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and…