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Alcoholism among women rises in new study

 
  • American adults reported an alarming increase in alcohol use, risky drinking and alcohol use disorders
  • Increases were particularly high in women, older adults, racial and ethnic minorities and individuals with lower education levels and income 
  • Researchers said monitoring these trends is important for the health of a nation
  • Lead author Dr Bridget Grant said the data might constitute a public health crisis

Abigail Miller For Dailymail.com

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New data has revealed that one in eight Americans are now alcoholics due to an an alarming rise in alcohol consumption in women, elderly people and ethnic minorities.

Experts at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism say that the rise could constitute a public health crisis that is being overshadowed by the opioid epidemic and marijuana legalization. 

During an 11 year gap, the number of people who received a diagnosis of alcoholism shot up by 49 percent, meaning 12.7 percent of the population – or roughly one in eight Americans – are alcoholics. 

The research team didn’t give a reason for the spike in alcoholism, but said the increase came about as it became more socially acceptable for women to drink. They also noted that stress could be a major factor.   

Risky alcohol use did increase in the men who were surveyed, but not to the same extent that it did for the other groups.

A new study has found that there has been an alarming increase in the number of Americans who reported heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders (stock image)

SLEEPING LESS THAN SIX HOURS A NIGHT IS AS BAD AS BINGE DRINKING 

Researchers from Quebec-based digital health company Medisys found people who regularly got less than six hours of sleep a night could suffer terrible cumulative health effects they may be oblivious to.

For the body, sleep deprivation results in increased risk of obesity, depression, heart attacks and strokes – causing experts to dub it the ‘modern ill’.

However, the most worrying consequences are rooted in the brain and new research suggests the effects are far more destructive than previously thought.

Research suggests that being awake for 18 hours results in the same cognitive impairment people get from being drunk.

This is so severe that driving while sleep deprived could be as dangerous as driving when drunk, researchers found.

‘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 authors said. 

‘Most important, the findings herein highlight the urgency of educating the public, policymakers and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and AUD, destigmatizing these conditions and encouraging those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment.’  

The research team, lead by Dr Bridget Grant, compared survey data about alcohol use over two year-long periods, from 2001-2002, and 2012-2013, to compare the change over time.

Survey respondents were asked about the number of drinks they had per day, how many times they consumed alcohol during the week, and whether or not they had been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). 

High-risk drinking was considered to be four or more standard drinks on any day for women and five or more for men. The study also classified high-risk drinking as exceeding those daily drinking limits at least once a week in the last year. 

An individual was also considered to have AUD if they met the criteria for alcohol dependence or abuse in the past 12 months as they are defined in the DSM-IV.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, found that the largest increase was seen in the number of people with AUDs overall. That number shot up by 49.4 percent in the 11 year period between 2002 and 2013. 

Researchers noted that survey respondents who noted that they had these disorders are likely to carry future health care costs and be more at risk for cancer, cardiac disease, and other serious disorders associated with heavy drinking. 

Several populations surveyed showed particularly striking changes in alcohol use. 

Women showed an 83.7 percent increase in alcohol use disorders in the time frame, and individuals who were 45 years to 64 years, and 65 years and older had 81.5 and 106.7 increases in the disorders respectively. 

Respondents with only a high school education reported a 57.8 percent increase in number of AUDs, and those who made less than $20,000 yearly reported a 65.9 percent increase in the disorders.   

Authors did note some limitations in the study though, primarily that the surveys lacked any sort of biological testing for substance use. 

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