Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

Alcoholism among women rises in new study

Alcoholism among women rises in new study

The researchers suggest that growing wealth inequality between whites and minorities may have led to "increased stress and demoralization", while educational, employment, housing and health disparities faced by non-white Americans may also lead to increased coping behaviors.

In 2012-2013, an estimated 29.6 million American adults reported high-risk drinking, up from 20.2 million in 2001-2002. It also tracked other patterns like "high risk" drinking, which the study defines as four or more drinks a day for women and five for men, plus a day that exceeds those limits at least once a week. Among women, alcohol abuse and dependence increased by 83.7 percent.

The findings revealed that alcohol use - particularly high-risk alcohol use and alcohol use disorder - had increased significantly between the two surveys, particularly among women, people of color, older adults and other subgroups.

"Once you get into the more heavy drinking ranges, the probability is you're cutting five to 10 years off people's lives", says Marc Schuckit, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. That number shot up by 49.4 percent in the 11 year period between 2002 and 2013. High-risk drinking increased by 65.2% and AUD increased by 106.7% among adults ages 65 and older, the study found, while alcohol use overall increased by 22.4% within the group.

Published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, the study took a look at two nationally representative surveys of more than 43,000 adults from 2001-02 and 36,000 in 2012-13.

And among older adults, abuse and dependence more than doubled. There were also increases in the rate of AUD among 12-month alcohol users (35.7%) and high-risk drinkers (17.2%).

The information also points out that women are the ones engaging in high-risk drinking.

Among women, it rose about 58 percent; among older adults, it rose 65 percent. Their results indicate that about 12.7 percent of Americans, or about one out of every eight people, would be considered an alcoholic. 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.

But in women, those categories jumped 60 percent and 84 percent, respectively. Among the poor (earning less than $20,000) it rose by 65.9 percent. Nearly every argument used against legalizing marijuana can be used against alcohol.

This study wasn't created to determine why people are drinking more.

The study didn't just track alcohol abuse. "If something's cheaper, we buy more", says Jürgen Rehm, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. By 2013, almost three-quarters of American adults said they had consumed alcohol within the previous year.

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".

Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, left, and NIAAA scientist Dr. Lorenzo Leggio at a research laboratory inside the National Institutes of Health's hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, in December 2014.

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

High-risk drinking among United States adults increased about 30% between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, according to a new study.

Like this: