A new study revealed that fourteen percent of Americans currently struggle with an alcohol abuse problem. In addition to those that are currently suffering from an alcohol abuse problem, a total of 30% of Americans have struggled with alcohol abuse at least once in their lifetime. The study was conducted by researchers who wanted to investigate exactly how prevalent alcohol addiction is in American society. While problems like; heroin addiction and prescription pill abuse are well known and discussed at length, alcohol addiction is the quiet killer.
“Most importantly, this study highlighted the urgency of educating the public and policy makers about alcohol use disorder and its treatments, destigmatizing the disorder, and encouraging among those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment,” explained the authors of the study.
In order to educate more people about the dangers of alcohol abuse and also that more Americans are suffering from an addiction to alcohol than many people thought, the researchers published their study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The study came about after medical experts changed the definition of alcohol use disorder, altering the criteria people needed to exhibit in order to be diagnosed with the dangerous addiction. The new definition added more signs of alcohol abuse and clarified that someone has to display at least two of the symptoms listed in the definition. Some of the new criteria included; continuing to drink alcohol despite it harming relationships, school or work performance being negatively affected by alcohol consumption and attempting to quit drinking and being unable to.
Researchers gathered data from 36,000 Americans. Questions were asked about their drinking habits and if their drinking negatively affected any aspects of their life. Researchers also studied those that admitted to having a drinking problem at one point in their life. Interestingly, most of the people that had struggled with alcohol in the past, or were currently struggling with alcohol, had not or were not receiving treatment. There is a general feeling that an alcohol abuse problem can go so long without being detected because the public is not aware of the signs of an alcohol addiction and how common the problem actually is. Researchers hope that the study will help to shed some light on the alcohol problem in the country.