A recent study done by The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that a surprisingly large number of heavy drinkers in America cannot be classified as alcoholics. Surprisingly, 90% of Americans who drink heavily do not qualify as having an alcohol dependence.
The study done by the CDC is an attempt to draw the line between people who are just social drinkers and those who are full blown alcoholics.
The study comes at a time when many Americans continue to regard alcoholism as a choice or evidence of weak willpower, despite the fact that medical professionals and the American Medical Association regard it as a disease. The study also helps improve the methods that are used for treating those who are alcoholics, emphasizing a more thorough, comprehensive approach that involves various health care professionals.
The CDC study revealed other interesting statistics about alcoholism in America. By using socioeconomic demographics to look more closely at participants drinking habits, the study was able to get a clearer picture of what groups are the most prone to alcohol abuse.
The study showed that the majority of alcoholics came from an annual income bracket of $25,000 or less, while those who earned $75,000 or more per year are most prone to binge drinking. The group that had the most occurrences of binge drinking, heavy drinking, and alcoholism were men between 18 and 24 years old.
Alcohol kills around 88,000 people every year, and about half of these deaths involved binge drinking. This dangerous practice continues to grow, especially among people in their early 20's.
Binge drinking can be defined as consuming large amounts of alcohol in a very short amount of time - for men this is five or more drinks in one sitting, and for women it's four or more drinks. Other alcohol related deaths were caused by heavy drinking that contributed to deadly health effects.
These include breast cancer, liver and heart disease, violence, alcohol poisoning, and car accidents caused by someone driving under the influence.
The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder released by the American Psychiatric Association includes a few changes to its definition of alcoholism. All editions define it as consuming larger amounts of alcohol than intended and consistently using alcohol to the point where it interferes with life responsibilities.
Previous editions of the manual included "legal problems" as one of the characteristics of an alcohol problem. The latest edition has this characteristic removed and "craving" alcohol is now part of the definition of an alcohol dependence.
While the CDC study does help make a clearer distinction between what constitutes being an alcoholic and what makes a person just a heavy drinker, it should not be used as evidence that drinking heavily is acceptable. It's important for the American public to know what the signs of an alcohol dependence are, and to know how to get help when someone does have a drinking problem. Some of these signs include:
- Repeated failed attempts to stop or reduce drinking.
- Continuing to drink even after it affects work or family life.
- Devoting more time to drinking every day.
Even if an individual does not have an alcohol problem but still continues to drink heavily, there are many health risks to be aware of. Many of these conditions can even lead to death. Heavy drinking puts one at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, liver and heart disease, and puts you at a higher risk of being exposed to violence and being involved in an alcohol-related car accident.