Opioid abuse has been in the news, drawing a spotlight to an increasingly
growing problem in America. But a new study is a sobering reminder that
issues with alcohol can't be ignored, either--alcohol use, high-risk
alcohol-use disorder, or alcoholism, are on the rise, with one in eight people in America considered
to have a drinking problem. The
JAMA Psychiatry study findings were so alarming that the authors called alcohol disorders
a "public health crisis."
The study found that 12.7 percent of Americans have an alcohol-use disorder
in which their drinking is compulsive and uncontrollable, while another
12.6 percent are high-risk drinking, or
binge drinking (five drinks at a time for men, four for women), on a regular basis. Significant
increases in these drinking problems were noted among women, African-Americans,
people with low incomes or education levels, and people age 45 and older.
These findings can have many health ramifications. The study noted that
there have been increases in conditions related to excessive alcohol use
such as cirrhosis of the liver and hypertension. Studies have also suggested
alcohol abuse can raise the risk of
cardiac issues, ranging from irregular heartbeat to heart attack, as well as the risk of
certain cancers. And there can be connections between alcohol abuse and
mental health issues such as depression. In 2010, the cost of dealing with these issues and
others related to alcohol in America was about $250 billion, according
to the study.
If you suspect someone you love has an alcohol disorder, it's important
to recognize the
signs of a drinking problem and encourage him to
seek professional treatment.
St. Joseph Hoag Health offers quality mental health and wellness programs, including inpatient
and outpatient treatment for alcoholism, addiction and other psychological,
psychiatric and behavioral disorders, at
Hoag Newport Beach and Hoag Irvine,
Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach, and
St. Joseph Hospital, Orange.