While the opioid epidemic has officially been declared a national emergency, researchers say there is another deadly issue hiding in plain sight. Recent statistics show that 12.7% of people living in the United States have some kind of alcohol-related disorder.
Alcoholism In The U.S.
The statistics stem from a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry. In the study, researchers compared the rates of alcoholism, alcohol use and binge drinking between 2001 to 2002 and 2012 to 2013. The study involved over 70,000 people.
Researchers found that between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, the number of people who drank alcohol, both casually and problematically, rose by 11.2%. The study showed that 72.7% of the population drink alcohol.
Almost one third of people in the United States were found to indulge in “high risk” binge drinking, defined by drinking five or more standard drinks a day for men and four drinks for women, at least once a week. The study showed a particular binge drinking rise among women, up 57.9% over the last decade.
One of the study’s authors was Professor Marc A. Schuckit from the University of California, San Diego. In an editorial statement, he wrote that the study makes “a compelling case that the United States is facing a crisis with alcohol use, one that is currently costly and about to get worse.”
It’s not hard to see why this is a problem. Drinking alcohol excessively has been linked to several different types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, stroke, liver cirrhosis and type 2 diabetes. While the reasons behind the rise in alcohol use weren’t explored in the study, researchers believe it may be “historically rooted in racial discrimination and persistent socioeconomic disadvantage both at the individual and community levels.”
A Worsening Problem
Professor Schuckit noted that the problem will most likely get worse. He explained, “The proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health budget being considered in Washington in 2017 are potentially disastrous for future efforts to decrease alcohol problems and are likely to result in higher costs for us all.”
He continued, “If the proposed budget prevails, the National Institutes of Health will have serious problems keeping current research going, and it will be difficult or even impossible to fund new research. In addition, most of the problems raised here will escalate further if as many as 23 million people lose health care.”
National Cancer Institute
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