Maybe hooch going mainstream is not so good. Odes to your favorite ah-ah-ah-ah-alcohol brands can be heard in popular music; you can now buy wine at the grocery store with your cat food; and Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford actually drink wine in the morning and people think this is OK (I never thought this was OK). Hell, we got people named Hennessy and Alize graduating from high school now.
But according to a newly released study, tens of millions of Americans are in the grips of alcohol abuse, with the sharpest rise among women, African Americans and older people (no word on whether older black women are drinking the most). In fact, an estimated 1 out of every 8 Americans struggles with an alcohol disorder.
The study was conducted by researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University and released in the Journal of American Psychiatry, CNN reports. It tracked drinking patterns among 40,000 people from 2002 to 2003 and then again from 2012 to 2013 to create a long-term picture of drinking habits.
Overall, alcohol-use disorders rose by almost 50 percent—and almost 30 million Americans actively struggling with alcohol abuse. The “rigorously controlled study” could point to no clear reason for the increases, but researchers have still deemed it a “public health crisis” on par with the current national opioid crisis.
Alcohol-use disorders have almost doubled (92.8 percent) in the African-American population and increased nearly 84 percent among women. For seniors, individuals 65 and older saw a staggering 106.7 percentincrease in alcohol-use disorders from 2002-2003 to 2012-2013.
High-risk drinking today is only five drinks in one sitting for men, and four for women, plus a day that exceeds those limits at least once a week—in any given week.
One doctor, Marc A. Schuckit, who wrote an editorial with the study, says that the cost of treating alcoholism is on par with the opiod epidemic, but less obvious at first.
“My view is that if we ignore these problems, they will come back to us at much higher costs through emergency department visits, impaired children who are likely to need care for many years for preventable problems, and higher costs for jails and prisons that are the last resort for help for many,” Schuckit wrote.
So before you take that next boozy brunch date with bottomless mimosas, Bellinis or bloody marys, you might want to pause. Same with drinking four bottles of wine a week—and definitely if you’ve ever blacked out.
And if you think you may have a problem, visit Alcoholics Anonymous for help.
Read more at CNN.