Alcohol dependency is ‘public health crisis’ in USBy Melita Kiely
Alcohol abuse in the US is now a “public health crisis”, according to a new study that shows high-risk drinking among adults rose about 30% over an 11-year period.
Published by JAMA Psychiatry, the study looked at the prevalence of 12-month alcohol use, high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorders between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.
High-risk drinking was considered as four or more standard drinks for women and five or more for men, with participants exceeding these daily drinking limits at least once a week during the past 12 months.
High-risk drinking increased from 20.2 million Americans in 2001-2002 to 29.6m in 2012-2013 – an increase of 29.9%.
The authors also concluded that alcohol use in the US rose from 65.4% in 2001-2002 to 72.7% in 2012-2013.
Furthermore, the study said these outcomes were greatest among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities and those with lower educational levels and family income.
The study concluded: “These increases constitute a public health crisis that may have been overshadowed by increases in much less prevalent substance use (marijuana, opiates, and heroin) during the same period.
“The development of prevention and intervention strategies both at the population level and those targeted at high-risk sub-groups of the population identified in this study will be paramount to achieving this goal.
“Most important, the findings herein highlight the urgency of educating the public, policymakers, and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and AUD, de-stigmatising these conditions and encouraging those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment.”