Americans are drinking more than ever, especially women!

Alcohol Drunk

Alcohol Drunk

The study's authors have deemed this broad increase in alcohol use to be a "public health crisis" that "may have been overshadowed by increases in much less prevalent substance abuse", such as opiates and marijuana. In the new study, the authors found that deaths from alcohol-related cirrhosis rose dramatically between 2009 and 2013 for the first time since the 1970s. Problem drinking increased by an even greater percentage, and women, racial minorities, older adults and the poor saw particularly large spikes. Their findings were published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

Heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder contribute to diseases that are also on the rise, says study coauthor Bridget Grant, an epidemiologist at NIAAA in Bethesda, Md. That number shot up by 49.4 percent in the 11 year period between 2002 and 2013.

High-risk drinking was defined as imbibing four or more standard drinks (a drink equals 14 grams of pure alcohol) on any day for women and as drinking five or more standard drinks on any day for men.

The United States has a serious drinking problem.

Heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, cancer and infections, and liver problems. In Canada, there is a minimum price for alcohol, and when that price has gone up, health problems and hospitalizations related to alcohol have gone down, he says.

The highest increase, however, is in Americans who suffered in the past 12 months from the DSM-IV variety of alcohol use disorder, also known as AUD, which the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes can exist as either alcohol abuse or dependence. Rates of AUD, for instance, increased by 92.8% for African-Americans, and by 65.9% for those earning $20,000 or less. These face-to-face interviews queried adults 18 years and older on their drinking habits in the past 12 months. High-risk drinking increased by 65.2% and AUD increased by 106.7% among adults ages 65 and older, the study found, while alcohol use overall increased by 22.4% within the group.

- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol (e.g., arguments with spouse about consequences of intoxication).

As for women, the results show a narrowing of the "gender gap" in drinking disorders, which is consistent with previous research.

"My view is that if we ignore these problems, they will come back to us at much higher costs through emergency department visits, impaired children who are likely to need care for many years for preventable problems, and higher costs for jails and prisons that are the last resort for help for many", he wrote. Because people tend to under-report consumption, especially as the amount of alcohol consumed increases, it's possible consumption levels could be even higher than found in this study.

These biggest increases were seen among women, older adults, minority groups, and people with low education or income levels. The researchers suggest that growing wealth inequality between whites and minorities may have led to "increased stress and demoralization", while educational, employment, housing and health disparities faced by non-white Americans may also lead to increased coping behaviors.