Alcohol Research
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August 11, 2017

Study: Americans, especially women and seniors, are drinking more

Alcohol dependency surged 50 percent in a dozen years, researchers say

Americans are knocking them back more than they used to. What’s more, women and seniors are leading the way, according to a recent study on drinking.

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.

Researchers found that the number of Americans who had a drink at least once a year increased 11 percent over that time, while “high-risk” drinkers jumped 30 percent.

Alcohol dependency, meanwhile, surged 50 percent.

High-risk drinking – defined as having four or more drinks per day at least once a week each year – increased 15 percent in men, while dependency went up 35 percent.

But in women, those categories jumped 60 percent and 84 percent, respectively. In adults 65 or older, meanwhile, high-risk drinkers went up 65 percent and alcohol dependency more than doubled.

Heavier drinking was also found among minority groups and those with lower income, researchers stated.

One of the study’s authors, Bridget F. Grant, works for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Grant co-wrote the findings with S. Patricia Chou of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Tulshi D. Saha of Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry.

The trio didn’t sugarcoat their findings, either.

“These increases constitute a public health crisis,” they wrote. “The results of this study call for a broader effort to address the individual, biological, environmental, and societal factors that influence high-risk drinking and [dependency] and their considerable consequences and economic costs to society.”

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