Does America Have A Binge Drinking Problem?

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The American Binge Drinking Problem?

Americans are consuming alcohol more than they used to, a troubling trend with potentially dire implications for the country’s future health-care costs.

The number of people who binge drink a minimum of once a week might be as high as 33 million, greater than the population of every state save California, according to a research study published on Wednesday in J.A.M.A. Psychiatry.

A similar amount disclosed alcoholic abuse or dependency.

Between the sexes, females showed the greater increase in alcohol abuse, according to the study.

” This should be a huge wake-up call,” said the supervisor of the Center on Alcohol Advertising and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved with the research. “Booze is our top drug issue, and it’s not just a problem among kids.”

While under-aged alcohol consumption has declined in recent years, adult usage and the binge drinking problem escalated across all demographics.

The jump was also especially big for older Americans, minorities, and individuals with lesser degrees of education and revenue.

The surge is “surprising. We haven’t seen these increases for 3 or four decades.”

The share of people who revealed any alcohol usage, risky drinking or alcohol dependence or abuse increased significantly between when questionnaires were conducted in 2001-02 and in follow-up surveys during 2012-2013.

Researchers directly talked to tens of thousands of individuals with comparable questions, offering a sturdy, countrywide representative look at how United States drinking habits have evolved in the 21st century.

About 12.6 percent of adults reported risky drinking during the previous year in 2012-13, compared with 9.8 percent in 2001-02.

Behavior was considered risky if people exceeded the state’s guidelines for extreme alcohol consumption, set at four drinks in one day for females and 5 drinks for males, at least once a week.

That 3 percentage point increase may not look like a substantial leap, but given an adult U.S. population of about 255 million, it stands for approximately 7 million more individuals with a binge drinking problem at least once a week.

The increase in alcohol abuse or dependence was even higher: Some 12.7 percent of respondents stated such conduct in the 2012-13 period, compared with 8.5 percent in 2001-02. That percentage surge is roughly comparable to 10.5 million people in the current population.

The surveys assessed abuse or dependence using standard symptomatic requirements (PDF), with questions like whether individuals had trouble reducing drinking, or if they continued consuming even when it rocked the boat with friends and family.

The American Binge Drinking ProblemThere’s no single explanation for the rise.

Researchers point to economic tension in the aftermath of the Great Recession; more easily available booze at dining establishments and stores; and the decreased effect of liquor taxes.

As a percentage of normal earnings, alcohol is less expensive today than at any point since at least 1950.

Pervasive advertising by the alcoholic drinks sector and new products such as flavored vodkas or hard soda and pop and iced tea may also be steering a few of the drinking problem increases among women and other demographics.

The consequences for healthcare, well-being and mortality are serious.

Excess alcohol consumption caused typically greater than 89,000 deaths in the U.S. every year from 2006 to 2010, the Centers for Disease Control estimates– more than double the number of deaths from prescription opioids and narcotics last year. The total consists of drunk-driving deaths and alcohol-linked violence, in addition to liver disease, strokes, and other clinical conditions.

The CDC says consuming way too much is responsible for one in ten deaths among working-age Americans.

The American Binge Drinking Problem?

The estimated cost of excessive alcohol usage is almost $270 billion a year in the U.S.

” We pay for all of it,” said Dr. Rehm, a top director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Study at the Center for Dependency and Mental Health in Toronto.

The costs appear in greater health-care demands, lost productivity and taking to court alcohol-fueled crimes, from intoxicated driving to murder.

Rehm said alcohol doesn’t command the attention of policymakers the way cigarette smoking, illicit drugs or prescribed opioids have.

“The response of society should equal to the level of the problem,” he said. Yet there is no national approach in the U.S. that matches current, prominent initiatives to combat opioids, smoking or controlled substances. “Alcohol,” Rehm said, “we just tend to overlook.”

The American Binge Drinking ProblemWhat can be done?

Making alcohol more expensive, through higher tax obligations or the setting of minimum required costs, could reduce consumption, said William Kerr, senior scientist at the Alcohol Study Team, a nonprofit research study center mostly financed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol addiction.

In Canada, placing a floor under alcohol prices was linked to decreases in alcohol-related hospital visits. Limiting availability, by limiting hours of sale or the variety of alcohol licenses, for example: would also decrease consumption, he added.

Additional clinical screening could also identify people with dangerous drinking habits. That, however, would require a considerable social shift in the United States of America.

Americans have a tendency to consider excess alcohol consumption a personality flaw instead of a health care issue.

Only about one-fifth of people who have disclosed alcoholism or dependence have ever been treated, previous analysis by Grant found. That compares to a treatment rate of about 65 percent for depression, she stated.

” I think that there’s a great deal of stigma still connected with it and people don’t wish to talk to their doctors about it,” she said.

“We haven’t gotten the job done for our binge drinking problem that we’ve done with clinical depression.”

 

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Craig Beck - The Stop Drinking Expert

About the author: Craig Beck (craig@craigbeck.com) is the world's #1 quit drinking coach. Using his experience as a former problem drinker, combined with an expert knowledge of NLP & human behavior. He has helped over 50,000 people to quit drinking, without willpower, rehab or medication. Discover how to stop drinking quickly and easily today.

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