A new US study has found that the rate of alcoholism among adult American adults has climbed by nearly 50 percent in the first decade of the 2000s, adding that one in eight adults or 12.7 percent of the US population meets diagnostic criteria for ‘alcohol use disorder.’
Authors of the research study, published in this month’s issue of JAMA Psychiatry, described the findings as a grim though overlooked public health crisis, underlining that alcoholism remains a major contributor to mortality from a wide variety of ailments such as “fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver cirrhosis, several types of cancer and infections, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, and various injuries.”
This is while the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 88,000 US residents die of alcohol-related causes each year, which is “more than twice the annual death toll of opiate overdose,” The Washington Post reported Saturday.
The study tracked drinking patterns among 40,000 Americans between the years of 2002 and 2003, and then again from 2012 to 2013 to establish a long-term picture of their habits. The results were described as alarming, especially in light of other substance abuse crises afflicting the US.
It was conducted by researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, and relied on strictly controlled self-reporting of drinking habits. While no clear reason was cited for the increase, the study authors said it constitutes a “public health crisis” resembling the current national opioid crisis.
“Most important, the findings…highlight the urgency of educating the public, policymakers, and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and [alcohol use disorders], destigmatizing these conditions and encouraging those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own..to seek treatment,” the study emphasizes.
The study’s statistics are even more bleak for specific groups. It points out, for instance, that alcohol use disorders have nearly doubled (92.8 percent) among the African American population, and hiked nearly 84 percent among female subjects.
However, the highest increase in alcohol abuse disorders was detected among the US elderly. Individuals 65 and older witnessed a whopping 107-percent growth in alcohol use disorders from 2002/2003 to 2012/2013. For 45- to 65-year-olds, the rate of increase was also high, standing at 81.5 percent.
The findings came as US President Donald Trump stated recently that the ongoing opioid crisis is a national public health emergency. A White House panel announced last week that 142 Americans die from drug overdoses every day, prompting Trump to make such a declaration.