08 Apr Alcohol Abuse in the United States on the Rise
A JAMA Psychiatry article that was published in September 2017 has shown that Americans are consuming more alcohol than ever before. An estimated one out of every eight Americans which equates to around 30 million people, struggle with an alcohol disorder.
The study looked at the drinking patterns of around 40,000 individuals between 2002 and 2003 and compared it to that of people in 2012 and 2013. The findings were shocking, to say the least, especially in light of other substance abuse problems affecting the country such as the opioid epidemic.
The following findings were made in the study:
- Alcohol use disorders rose by almost 50 percent. Nearly 9 percent of the population was affected in the initial research period compared to nearly 13 percent during the second part of the study.
- Alcohol use disorders have almost doubled amongst the African American population.
- There has been an increase of 84 percent of the female population struggling with alcohol use disorders.
- It was also noted that alcohol use disorders increased more than double (106 percent) in individuals over the age of 65 and by nearly 82 percent in those between 45 and 65 years of age.
As can be seen, these statistics show the increase in alcohol use disorders. This is the complication of alcohol use and using alcohol in itself has spiked tremendously. High-risk drinking, a situation that is defined as consuming four or more drinks a day in women and five in men and including a day where this limit is exceeded at least once a week, has increased from nearly 10 percent in 2002/2003 to nearly 14 percent in 2012/2013.
What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder is a condition that is associated with a pattern of alcohol use that involves:
- Being preoccupied with alcohol.
- Having problems controlling one’s frequency of drinking.
- Continuing the use of alcohol even if it causes problems such as getting into trouble with the law.
- Having to drink more alcohol in order to achieve the same effect.
- Using alcohol to the point where the body becomes dependent on the substance and stopping it abruptly will lead to the user experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Complications of alcohol use disorder may include:
- Alcohol intoxication – the higher the alcohol level in the bloodstream, the more impaired one becomes and this can lead to issues such as mental changes and behavioral problems such as unstable moods, inappropriate behavior, slurred speech, poor coordination, and impaired judgment.
- Alcohol withdrawal – when alcohol use is stopped or greatly reduced, the user can experience problems such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, hand tremors, hallucinations, sleep-related problems, anxiety, agitation, and even seizures.
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