Risky Alcohol Intake on the Rise — Especially in Women, Minorities, Seniors — Physician’s First Watch

August 10, 2017

Risky Alcohol Intake on the Rise — Especially in Women, Minorities, Seniors

By Kelly Young

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD

The prevalence of high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder increased sharply over a decade, constituting a public health crisis, a JAMA Psychiatry study concludes.

Two surveys taken in 2001–2002 and 2012–2013 asked 80,000 U.S. adults about their alcohol use.

Among the findings:

  • The proportion of people who reported drinking alcohol in the past year increased from 65% to 73% over the 11 years.

  • The prevalence of high-risk drinking — i.e., drinking 4 or more drinks on a given day for women, 5 or more for men, at least weekly in the past year — rose from 10% to 13%. Increases in high-risk drinking were largest for women (58% increase), racial/ethnic minorities (41–62%), and seniors (65%).

  • The overall prevalence of alcohol use disorder increased from 9% to 13%. Again, increases were highest among women (84% increase), black participants (93%), and seniors (107%).

An editorialist writes that the study "makes a compelling case that the United States is facing a crisis with alcohol use, one that is currently costly and about to get worse."

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