According to a new study, the alcohol use disorder or “alcoholism” is overlooked in the United States. About one out of every eight people have the alcohol use disorder.

According to the study findings, alcoholism has not been addressed with the importance it has. This public health issue is a significant driver of mortality from a high number of diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver cirrhosis, several types of cancer and infections, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, among others. The study also says that alcohol consumption has been increasing over the last decades in the U.S territory.

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“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,” said San Diego psychiatrist Marc Schuckit from the University of California.

88,000 Americans die every year from an alcohol-related cause

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at least 88,000 people die in the United States every year because of an alcohol-related cause, which doubles the number of individuals who die from an opiate overdose.

According to this new study, alcoholism rates increased by 49 percent in the first decade of the 21 century. About 12.7 percent of adults in America – or 1 in eight Americans – meet the required criteria to be an alcoholic. The data analyzed in the study was gathered by the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC).

According to the conclusions, alcoholism is more prevalent in men. 16 percent of American men have an alcohol addiction, then comes the group of the Native Americans with 16.6 percent. 14.3 percent of people below the poverty threshold are also alcoholics, and so are 14.8 percent of the population living in the Midwest. Women showed a larger increase in the alcohol consumption than men during the period of study.

The researchers consider that at least 30 million of American adults binge drink at least once a week. However, the study found that underage drinking decreased in the last years. On average, the study sets four drinks a day for women and a consumption of 5 drinks for men in one day. This study was recently published in the JAMA Psychiatry.

Image credit: The Point with Ana Kasparian Youtube Channel
Image credit: The Point with Ana Kasparian Youtube Channel

The ‘Facing addiction’ report

The “facing addiction” report brings together the latest information gathered regarding alcohol and drug abuse. To diagnose the alcohol use disorder, a person needs to experience at least 3 of the following symptoms that are stated in the National Institutes of Health:

  1. Constant use of alcohol to face a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g., repeated absences or poor work performance related to alcohol use; alcohol-related absences, suspensions, or expulsions from school; neglect of children or household).
  2. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving an automobile or operating a machine when impaired by alcohol use).
  3. Recurrent alcohol-related legal problems
  4. 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).
  5. Drinking in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended.
  6. Persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drinking.
  7.  Giving up of reducing the time invested in important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of drinking.
  8. A great deal of time spent in activities necessary to obtain, to use, or to recover from the effects of drinking.
  9. Drinking alcohol despite being aware of the recurrent physical or psychological problems that are linked to drinking.
  10. Tolerance to alcohol, which could be understood as the need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect; or for a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.

If people meet that criteria, then they can be considered as alcoholics.

Why are Americans consuming more alcohol?

One out of four people below 30 also could be diagnosed with the alcohol use disorder. Alcohol leads to different diseases – such as cirrhosis, cancer and hypertension – and other leading causes of death in the country such as car crashes.

According to the study’s lead author, Bridget Grant, who is also a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, the alcohol increasing abuse is due to stress and despair. Alcohol has become a coping mechanism for many adults, and its abuse has incremented among minorities than among white individuals. Grant also notes that this shows the social inequalities after the 2008 recession.

The researchers also alert that the increasing consumption of alcohol could have terrible implications for the health care costs in the future. They call upon the authorities and the population to raise awareness about this social and public health issue.

Source: The Washington Post