Ten-year study finds alcohol disorders most prevelant among women, elderly

Opioid use has taken center stage for the past few years but alcohol use in America has been increasing in the background.

Reporter Dartalia Alati has the story.

Alati_Alcohol from Dartalia Alati on Vimeo.


A recent study shows that not only are people drinking more alcohol, but more people are drinking in general.

The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry, studied 80,000 particpants — once from 2001 to 2002, and then a second

William Lechner

time from 2012 to 2013. The results showed alcohol intake substantially increased in women, racial and ethnic minorities and those with a lower socioeconomic status.

Not only did alcohol consumption increase in certain demographics, but the results also show a sharp rise in alcohol use disorders (AUDs). The most notable finding is 90 percent of women developed an AUD.

Kent State professor William Lechner, an expert in alcohol and nicotine addiction, said the results are surprising, considering the increase in alcohol awareness.

“We thought that alcohol consumption has remained relatively the same over time,” Lechner said. “But this research proves the opposite.”

Graphic by Lydia Taylor

Drinking more than intended, craving alcoholic beverages multiple times a week and experiencing withdrawal symptoms after trying to quit drinking are all symptoms of an AUD — and more than 15 million adults have one, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Out of those 80,000 participants, nearly 50 percent of the group developed an AUD. About 30 percent became high-risk drinkers — a person who consumes seven to 14 drinks in a week, according to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM).

Clinicians diagnose an individual based on three levels: mild, moderate or severe alcoholism. Through a series of questions the DSM provides, the individual has to answer either yes or no.

Two to three symptoms need to be present for mild AUD, four to five symptoms for moderate AUD and six or more for


The most common and deadly form of an AUD is binge drinking, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It’s when someone drinks more than five alcoholic beverages in two hours and makes a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rise above 0.08, the legal limit.

Lechner said it’s easier for someone to have a diagnosis of mild AUD, particularly in the 18-24 age group.

“A lot of students or people your age tend to go out for drinks, end up drinking more than intended… All you need is a few of those symptoms to have an AUD,” Lechner said.

According the the CDC, binge drinking is most prevelant in ages 18-34.

The study didn’t reveal any information relating to a young age group, but instead showed adults 65 years and older are a large portion of high-risk drinkers — 65 percent.

Even though the results showed a large increase in multiple categories, the researchers failed to outline potential causes.

“There’s many reasons why people drink, but it’s hard to narrow down the cause when the findings are so large,” Lechner said.