The United States has a serious drinking problem.
The study does not explain why alcohol drinking and abuse increased, but researchers suggest some explanations could include changing social norms and alcohol consumption as a coping device.
Ethnic minority populations and Americans with lower education and income levels also had much more noticeable increases between the two surveys, according to the study. In this study, high-risk drinking was defined as exceeding the daily drinking limits at least weekly during the prior 12 months. However, by 2012-2013 the rate was about 13 percent (nearly 30 million people).
But high-risk and problem drinking increased far more dramatically.
"Light drinking has been shown to be helpful for people's health overall, but heavy drinking can lead to some harms and impairment", Deborah Hasinthe study's lead author and a Columbia University professor, said.
The surveys conducted in 2001- 2002 and follow up surveys in 2012 - 2013 yield some interesting facts.
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 study reflects stark increases among the population overall, the most noticeable rises were in various population subgroups. These face-to-face interviews queried adults 18 years and older on their drinking habits in the past 12 months. Some 12.7 percent of respondents reported such behavior in the 2012-13 period, compared with 8.5 percent in 2001-02. But they noted that the increase in high-risk and problem drinking among older adults is "unprecedented".
Among women, it rose about 58 percent; among older adults, it rose 65 percent.
The study's authors have deemed this broad increase in alcohol use to be a "public health crisis" that "may have been overshadowed by increases in much less prevalent substance abuse", such as opiates and marijuana. Heavy alcohol use may also be contributing to a slowdown in the decline of death rates from cardiovascular diseases.
A new study found the rates of alcohol abuse are increasing in the United States, particularly among specific demographic groups.
To stop the rise in heavy drinking, he suggests "you need to counteract exactly those factors: make [alcohol] more expensive, make it less available and ban advertisements". Women, for instance, are statistically more likely to take prescription drugs that could have an adverse effect with alcohol, and alcohol use can increase chances of breast cancer, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other female-centric diseases. Plus, the authors also highlighted the financial burden that's associated with heavy drinkers. "Policymakers and health professionals need to be aware of this, too". "Clearly, alcohol does not get the necessary attention given the problems it causes", says Rehm.
The study data were derived from face-to-face interviews conducted in two nationally representative surveys of US adults: the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, with data collected from April 2001 to June 2002, and the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III, with data collected from April 2012 to June 2013.
M. Schuckit. Remarkable increases in alcohol use disorders.