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Alcohol Use and High-Risk Drinking in US

JAMA Psychiatry; ePub 2017 Aug 9; Grant, et al

Substantial increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the US population is especially prominent among subgroups that include women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, a recent study found. Findings from the study, which examined changes in the prevalence of 12-month alcohol use, 12-month high-risk drinking, among 12-month alcohol users, and 12-month DSM-IV AUD 12-month high-risk drinkers between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013, also signify increases in many chronic comorbidities in which alcohol use has a substantial role. More study details include:

  • The study sample included 43,093 from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and 36,309 participants from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III.
  • Between 2002-2002 and 2012-2013, 12-month alcohol use increased by 11.2%.
  • High risk drinking has increased approximately 30% over the last 10 years, with current numbers showing 12.6% of the adult population, representing approximately 29.6 million Americans, being high risk drinkers.
  • AUD has increased approximately 49% over the last 10 years, with current numbers showing 12.7% of the adult population, representing approximately 29.9 million Americans, are high risk drinkers.
  • In most cases, these increases were also statistically significant across sociodemographic subgroups.
  • The increases were greatest among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and those with lower educational level and family income.

Citation:

Grant BF, Chou SP, Saha TD, et al. Prevalence of 12-month alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder in the United States, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013. Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. [Published online ahead of print August 09, 2017. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.2161.

Commentary:

High-risk drinking and AUD are risk factors for many illnesses, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver cirrhosis, several types of cancer and infections, pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, and traumatic injuries including motor vehicle accidents and one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.1 The increase in death rate from alcohol-related cirrhosis, emergency room visits, and alcohol-affected distracted driving mortality reflects this increased incidence of alcohol use.2,3,4 Particularly concerning are the greater increases in high-risk drinking and AUD among women (57.9% and 83.7%, respectively) than men (15.5% and 34.7%, respectively) over the last 10 years. While changes in societal norms and concerted public health interventions have substantially decreased the number of people smoking cigarettes over the last 20 years, such changes have not occurred with regard to alcohol use. On the individual and population level, recognizing the dangers of overuse of alcohol is long overdue. —Neil Skolnik, MD

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Impaired Driving: Get the Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_fac.... Accessed 8/15/2017.
  2. Yoon YH, Chen CM. . Rockville, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; 2016.
  3. Mullins PM, Mazer-Amirshahi M, Pines JM. Alcohol-related visits to US emergency departments, 2001-2011. Alcohol Alcohol. 2017;52(1):119-125. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agw074.
  4. Wilson FA, Stimpson JP, Tibbits MK. Accident analysis and prevention. Accid Anal Prev. 2013;60:189-192.