A U.S. study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that increases in high-risk drinking were most prevalent among women, minority groups and seniors.
The Results of the Study
The study defined high-risk drinking as “regular consumption of four drinks a day for women or five for men”. This is about the equivalent of four shots of alcohol or four beers. Over a 12-month period, the increases in high-risk drinking were at 57.9% for women, 40.6% for ethnic minorities and 65.2% for seniors. Researchers collected data from around 80,000 respondents from 2001 to 2002 and 2012 to 2013.
Chronic Diseases Linked with Alcohol Abuse
What is alarming about these results is that they may be connected with other chronic diseases linked with alcohol abuse. Bridget Grant, senior epidemiologist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, states that “the increases […] seen over the last decade have been associated with increases in a lot of other chronic diseases that are associated with alcohol abuse.”
For instance, there’s been an increase in liver cirrhosis since the 70s. Cirrhosis is a liver disease commonly caused by heavy drinking, as the alcohol causes irreversible scarring of the organ. Another disease on the rise in the last five years is cardiovascular disease, and Grant further states that “alcohol use is a major risk factor for that.”
How About Alcohol Abuse in Canada?
In Canada, there was a 3.2% increase in alcohol consumption and dependence in 2012 over a 12-month period. The 2015 Alcohol Consumption in Canada Report showed that 4.4 million Canadians who report drinking alcohol were at risk for chronic health effects caused by drinking.
Why Are Women and Seniors at Greater Risk?
Researchers formed some hypotheses as to why some groups are at greater risk of heavy drinking than others. Socio-cultural changes, for instance, is one of them. With an increasing number of women in the workforce, it is likely that more women are turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism.