Health & Wellness

A Tipple or Two Too Many

By Lola Augustine Brown

Worrying news from the United States could have many older Canadians taking a moment to consider their drinking habits. According to recently published study results, the number of American seniors engaging in high-risk drinking is rising and constitutes a public health crisis. The findings appeared in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The research was conducted by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in two parts, the first study being carried out in 2001–2002 and the second, in 2012–2013. Both times, roughly 40,000 people were quizzed on their drinking habits over a 12-month period.

Researchers found that in over that 10-year period, people’s drinking habits had changed substantially. The first time around, 65.4% of Americans said that they drank alcohol, while in the later research that had increased to 72.7%. In the initial research, only 9.7% of those drinkers were found to be in the high-risk category, but the later study found this figure had increased to 12.6%—a 30% jump. One in eight Americans now meets the criteria for alcoholism.

Among Americans aged 65 or over, the number of those using alcohol rose 22.4%, and high-risk drinking in the group was up 65.2% over the 10 years; older Americans showed the biggest increase in alcohol-use disorder (more commonly known as alcoholism), with a shocking 106.7% increase. This was followed by a 92.8% increase among African-Americans and an 83.7% rise among women.

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