Posted on Jul 18, 2018, 3 a.m.
40% of American adults have been found in a study from Boston University School of Public Health to drink too much alcohol, in amounts that risk health consequences, identifying a range of factors that are associated with starting or stopping drinking too much, as published in the Journal of Substance Use.
73% of adult Americans drinking risky amount of alcohol were found to be still doing so 2 to 4 years later, with 15% of those previously not drinking risky amount of alcohol starting to do so in this study. Starting to drinking too much alcohol was associated with being younger, being male and white, smoking, drug use, transitioning to legal drinking age, and other social factors.
Data used to conduct this study was gathered by the researchers from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions in both 2001-2002 and 2004-2005 which collected data via interview from a nationally representative sampling which involved upwards of 34,000 American adults who completed both surveys that assessed drinking patterns using a validated interview tool. In this study at risk use was defined as being more than 7 per week or more than 3 on a single occasion for women, and more than 14 drinks per week on average or more than 4 drinks on a single occasion for men.
After analyzing data the largest predictor of transitioning to at risk alcohol intake was found to be being of younger age, especially among those who were under legal drinking age at time of first survey. Other factors were found to be including being married, male, becoming divorced or separated, smoking, drug use, being in the military, being in good or excellent health, and having an alcohol use disorder. Predictors of not transitioning to at risk use were found to be having children between the rounds of surveys, unemployment, being black, and reporting more stressful life experiences. Predictors of continuing to drink too much were found to be being male, younger, drugs, smoking, and having an alcohol use disorder. Predictors of transitioning to lower at risk use were found to be having children between the rounds of surveys, being hispanic and/or black, and receiving alcohol disorder treatment.
According to the researchers findings suggest that many people drink, many of those drink amounts associated with health consequences, and without intervention they are more likely to continue to do so. Feedback, counseling, self assessments, screening, and public health messages can have important roles in interrupting these habits, predictors identified may help target efforts.
Materials provided by Boston University School of Medicine.
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Richard Saitz, Timothy C Heeren, Wenxing Zha, Ralph Hingson. Transitions to and from at-risk alcohol use in adults in the United States. Journal of Substance Use, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/14659891.2018.1497101