On Wednesday, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported that almost 30 million adults in the U.S engage in binge drinking at least once a week. An almost same number reported alcohol abuse or dependency. The study highlights a trend that could have great implications for the costs of the U.S’s future healthcare.
The Rise in Numbers Includes All Demographics
The study shows that there has been a decrease in the numbers of young adults who drink. However, binge drinking in adults increased significantly and encompasses all demographics. What stood out the most were older Americans, citizens of lower incomes and education and minorities. Lead researcher from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Bridget Grant said that such jumps have not been seen in the last three or four decades.
A survey in 2001 first recorded the increase in alcohol drinking. A follow-up survey in 2012 resulted in an even bigger increase in risky drinking habits. The 2001 survey noted that 9.7% of adults engage in heavy drinking. The follow-up reported a 12.6%. This means that the limits set by the government of four drinks for women per day and five for men were exceeded at least once a week. The new study shows that women engaged more in binge drinking than men.
Alchohol abuse or dependence is roughly coming up to the same percentage. The 2001 survey reported 8.5% of responders admitting such behavior while the follow-up survey reported 12.7%. The surveys all featured standard questions regarding drinking habits and the difficulty of giving up these habits.
So far there is no certain explanation for the increase. The economic stress that followed the Great Recession might be a factor. At the same time, taxes on alcohol have been reduced and alcohol is available in any restaurant or retail store. Alcohol abuse can have dire consequences on health, including the risk of drunk-driving deaths and alcohol related violence.
Image source: Pixabay.
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