Drinking on the rise in U.S., especially for women, minorities, older adults

High-risk alcohol use has increased significantly since 2002 study finds

Alcohol on sale at a supermarket in San Rafael

The numbers also revealed alcohol abuse and dependency. But what's even more concerning is that "high-risk drinking" increased by nearly 30%, meaning more people were finding themselves having four or five - or more - drinks per day at least once a week.

Between 2002 and 2013, overall drinking increased by 11 percent. However, as people usually under-report consumption, the authors warned the rates might be higher.

Researchers say women in particular are hitting the bottle more than ever. The disorder is determined by such symptoms as alcohol interfering with a person's home or work life, suffering withdrawal symptoms after abstaining from alcohol and being unable to cut down on or stop drinking, among others.

Among the total population, the study determined that DSM-IV AUD increased from 8.5% to 12.7% between the two surveys - a significant increase of 49.4%.

The authors defined high-risk drinking as regular consumption of four drinks of alcohol a day for women or five for men. High-risk drinking overall rose by 29.9 percent.

The study found the most substantial increases among women, older adults, racial and ethnic minorities and individuals with lower levels of education and income. "The NSDUH shows a decline in alcohol use disorders among all age groups".

The findings suggest "a public health crisis", the researchers say, given the fact that high-risk drinking is linked to a number of diseases and psychiatric problems, as well as violence, crime and crashes. Among black people, it increased by 92.8 percent.

These subgroup-specific increases could prove to have particularly deadly effects, the study's authors noted. And it's worrying, because older adults at are a high risk of death, injury or disease connected to alcohol use - from falls, for instance, or from adverse interactions between drugs and drinking.

The authors of the study also said these increases go unnoticed because of other damaging substances.

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. That is, men are still more likely than women to be problem drinkers, but women are catching up. Because of this, the study presses for "the development of prevention and intervention strategies" that will target both the entire population and the subgroups who are particularly at risk.

And among older adults, abuse and dependence more than doubled.

Earlier this week, JAMA Psychiatry published a report claiming alcohol dependency and alcohol-related disorders are a "public health crisis" in the USA, after a study suggested high-risk drinking among adults rose nearly 30% over an 11-year period.

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