Don't Raise a Glass to This: High-Risk Drinking Climbs in the U.S.
Almost three-quarters of Americans now drink alcoholic beverages – an increase of 11.2 percent over a 10-year period, from 65.4 percent in 2001-2002 to 72.7 percent in 2012-2013. The new information on the prevalence of alcohol consumption is based on two large surveys and was published this week in JAMA Psychiatry.
The surveys also showed that high-risk drinking – defined as four or more drinks a day for women, five or more for men, and exceeding those limits at least weekly during the year – increased from 20.2 million to 29.6 million during this same period. Alcohol-use disorder diagnoses also skyrocketed, from 17.6 million to 29.9 million.
In general, the highest increases in alcohol use were in women, older adults, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with lower education levels and incomes. Researchers consider the rise in drinking rates a public health crisis. While they’re unclear about the reasons for the increase, they think it may be related to economic stress and the increased accessibility to and affordability of alcohol.