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Alcoholism, binge-drinking up sharply among Americans

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Study shows an increase among all demographics, but sharpest among women, the elderly, minorities and the poor.

A recent study measuring drinking habits has found that today 1 in 8 Americans have been diagnosed alcoholics, a 49 percent increase in 11 years.

Harmful levels of drinking have risen among all demographics in the United States, according to a survey conducted by the JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association). The study found that the sharpest increase in high-risk drinking occurred among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities and the socio-economically disadvantaged.

“This should be a big wake-up call,” David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Bloomberg News. “Alcohol is our number one drug problem, and it’s not just a problem among kids.”

The study found that 12.6 percent of adults reported high-risk or binge-drinking in 2012-13, compared to the 9.7 percent who reported engaging in such behavior in 2001-2. High-risk drinking is defined as exceeding the daily drinking guidelines at least weekly in the past 12 months — that’s more than 5 drinks in one day for men, and more than 4 drinks in one day for women.

The report called the 59.7 percent increase in binge-drinking among women “alarming,” and noted that it may portend future increases in breast cancer, liver cirrhosis, increases in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and exposure to violence.

 

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