Alcoholism is alive and well in the United States. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that over 15 million adults struggled with Alcohol Use Disorders in some form. Of those, less than 7% received professional treatment within the last year. These numbers are alarming enough by themselves, and speak to both the size of the problem and the need to find better strategies for addressing it on a national level. More disturbing, however, is the possibility that these numbers are reflective of an upward trend in alcoholism as a whole within the United States.
Alcohol Use Disorder Among the General Population
It is difficult to measure alcoholism among the general population since studies differ in the criteria for measuring what constitutes alcoholism. Alcoholism’s classification has changed with time, with previously separated conditions of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence now merged under the umbrella term of Alcohol Use Disorder.
These shifts in our classification of alcoholism may account for some variance in studies. One recent study, for example, found that alcoholism rose by 49% from 2002 to 2013, with as many as 1 in 8 Americans classified as meeting the criteria for AUD. Another study, however, found that rates of alcoholism had actually decreased since 2002. Notably, the study that found increased alcoholism used more sensitive criteria, suggesting that its findings set a lower bar for alcoholism than the other.
Increases in Heavy Drinking & Alcohol-Related Deaths
Despite the discrepancies between studies on alcoholism rates over time, other studies have pointed to a notable increase in specific kinds of alcohol consumption and among certain demographics. One 2015 study found that heavy drinking increased by as much as 17% since 2005.
Such trends do not fall on all people equally, with research finding that “women, racial minorities, older adults, and the poor saw particularly large spikes” of problem drinking. In a recent USA Today article entitled “Alcohol Is Killing More People, and Younger,” the author cites a new study that shows “from 2007 to 2017, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol increased 35 percent”. The article further explains the rise in binge drinking as cause for emergency room visits, as well as a general trend of alcohol becoming an increasingly common cause of death in the United States.
Alcoholism and the Need to Seek Treatment
While large-scale trends of alcohol abuse are difficult to measure, there is compelling evidence to believe that alcoholism is increasing at an alarming rate among significant sections of the population in the United States. Alcoholism can easily creep up on a person. It can arise from situations that many view as harmless, such as casual social drinking turning into a habit and then dependence.
Contrary to the popular belief that one or two drinks may confer health benefits, a new study asserts that no level of alcohol consumption is healthy. 6 Social pressures to drink are common, but are not worth the risk if one has a tendency towards addictive behavior. Alcohol dependence and abuse are likely to worsen any issues one drinks to avoid, not fix them. If you or a loved one is beginning to depend on alcohol to an unhealthy degree, the time to seek help is now.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers 12-step centered alcohol addictionrecovery programs that include the latest in clinical treatment modalities. From detox to recovery to post-treatment sober living, the caring professionals at Granite Recovery Centers will help you or your loved one find the appropriate level of care and set you on the path to sustained sobriety.