American alcohol use on the rise, especially for women

American alcohol use on the rise, especially for women

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  • Higher rate to women.
  • Rates vary on location.
  • What caused the increase?

A new study indicates the rise of binge drinking between 2005 and 2012 with results startling some people. But is the rise based on particular events?

University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation discovered that American instances of binge and heavy drinking rose between 2002 and 2012. However, heavy drinking data focused on time between 2005 and 2012.

Studying county maps and data, researchers found that large variances based on location in the Unites States but the overall conclusion indicated a need to reduce the amount of alcohol intake. Using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to small areas of data, the group added in spatial and temporal smoothing to address any methodological changes.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that part of the rise is the increase of women drinking heavily. However, should that be the case, perhaps another look into previous under reporting /4/be in order. Additionally, heavy drinking focused on more than one drink a day for women and two a day for men in a month. And binge drinking is defined by consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more men in a single month.

The institute provided an interactive health map to see results in action. For instance, the state of Georgia has a rate of 42.5% while Fulton County has a prevalence rate of 55.3%. Yet Muscogee County, home to Ft. Benning, only has a level of 40.1%.

Numbers are varied and fluid. Washington, D.C. saw a 58.3% rate while the national is only 49.1%. Illinois floats at a whopping 54.8% while Cook County is a full percent higher at 55.8%.

In binge drinking, women of Cook County were only at 16.1% compared to D.C.’s 16.7%. In Georgia, 11.5% of the binge drinkers were women in Fulton while Muscogee only rated 9.8%. The numbers paint the varying numbers in comparison with the any drinking numbers.

Lead author in the study Ali Mokdad said, “The percentage of people who drink is not changing much, but among drinkers, we are seeing more heavy drinking and more binge drinking.” In the USA Today article, the professor simply stated, “We’re going in the wrong direction.”

Menominee County, Wisconsin, home of the Menominee Indian Reservation, has the highest rate % of adults’ binge drinking at 36. And 29.3% are women drinkers. That’s almost ten percent above the state average of 19.7%. Could poverty be a motivation?

The numbers are scattered but one must take into account the historical contexts of increased drinking as well.

Nationally, the country financially faced the Great Recession while servicemen and servicewomen returned home to a system ill-equipped to handle the influx of veterans. These are not the only indicators, but are symptoms of a broken society where alcohol becomes a cheap replacement for inaccessible healthcare.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s numbers are very helpful identifying areas in need of help and organizational change. The numbers do not paint a full picture but offer a deep enough glimpse to incite change. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health this month.

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