We need to educate the public, policymakers, and law enforcement about the scope of the problem

According to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV AUD in the US population and among subgroups, especially women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged, constitute a public health crisis. Taken together, these findings portend a public health crisis.

“Prevalence of 12-Month Alcohol Use, High-Risk Drinking, and DSM-IV Alcohol Use Disorder in the United States, 2001-2002 to 2012-2013” authored by Bridget F. Grant, PhD, S. Patricia Chou, et al. on August 9, 2017, published their findings from a national epidemiological survey on alcohol and related conditions. The study data were derived from face-to-face interviews conducted in 2 nationally representative surveys of US adults. Here are the key takeaways:

  1. There have been substantial increases in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder. DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse includes a negative pattern of alcohol abuse leading to clinical impairment or distress, as manifested by recurrent alcohol-related legal problems (e.g., arrests for alcohol-related disorderly conduct).
  2. Alcohol use and specifically high-risk drinking, which often leads to alcohol use disorder (AUD), are significant contributors to the burden of disease in the United States and worldwide.
  3. In view of the seriousness of the numerous physical and psychiatric harms of high-risk drinking and AUD, regular and detailed monitoring of their trends over time is imperative for the health of the nation.
  4. The study’s authors contend that we need to keep monitoring the problem. While there have been increases among all segments, the increase was particularly striking among women, where the study found increases of 57.9% in high-risk drinking and 83.7% increase in alcohol use disorder (AUD).

In addition to being a public health crisis, the rise in alcohol abuse has cost the economy approximately $250 billion over the past decade. We need to develop prevention and intervention strategies and educate the public, policymakers, and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and the need to seek treatment. It would make sense to review our laws and work together with law enforcement.

For further review of the study (source):

Jama Network: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2647079

DSM Criteria for Alcohol Abuse: http://www.alcoholcostcalculator.org/business/about/dsm.html