If you're prone to reaching for a glass of wine or declaring a happy hour hang to unwind, you're certainly not alone.
According to research published in JAMA Psychology, more Americans — particularly women and older adults — are consuming high amounts of alcohol.
For the study, researchers looked at two large studies of U.S. adults (one that involved more than 43,000 adults from 2001-2002, and another that included more than 36,000 adults from 2012-2013), analyzing the drinking habits that they reported.
Within the year, the number of people who said that they drank alcohol increased by 11%, and high-risk drinking (defined as having four or more drinks per day at least once a week, every week, for a year, and five or more for men) increased by nearly 30%. The researchers also studied alcohol use disorders, determining if a person was dependent on alcohol based on American Psychiatric Association criteria, and found that the number of people with disorders increased by 50%.
Interestingly, the increases were the greatest among women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and those with lower education levels and family income. While it's not exactly clear why that is, researchers theorized that cultural norms have changed in the past 50 years to make drinking as acceptable in other people as it was previously in men. Moreover, added stress is enough to drive anyone to drink, and we hope we don't have to tell you why women and minorities experience more stress.
However, researchers warn that increased drinking could be indicative of a more dangerous trend.
"These increases constitute a public health crisis that may have been overshadowed by increases in much less prevalent substance use (marijuana, opiates, and heroin) during the same period," the study's authors wrote.
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