Alcoholism rose by 49% during the first decade of the 2000’s, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Currently, one in eight Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism disorder (WashingtonPost.com, 11 August 2017). Unfortunately, deaths from alcohol-related conditions such as cirrhosis, hypertension and more have also increased. This culminates in a combined annual death toll almost twice that of opioid overdoses. According to the JAMA study’s findings, the increase “in alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and DSM-IV alcohol use disorder constitute a public health crisis.”
There are several groups that seem to be more affected. The JAMA study showed that rates of alcoholism are higher among men, Native Americans, people below the poverty threshold and people living in the Midwest. According to Bridget Grant, lead researcher, increases were “much greater among minorities than among white individuals” (WashintonPost.com, 11 August 2017). So what accounts for the differences between these groups? Grant believes that “the increases are due to stress and despair and the use of alcohol as a coping mechanism,” crediting the widening social inequality gap that occurred after the 2008 recession.
It should be noted, that an alternative federal survey counters the JAMA study, this study actually indicated that alcohol disorder rates have been falling since 2002. It is possible that this disparity is a result of varying question design (WashingtonPost.com, 11 August 2017).