The proportion Americans developing alcohol dependence, it said could be considered a "public health crisis". In the new study, the authors found that deaths from alcohol-related cirrhosis rose dramatically between 2009 and 2013 for the first time since the 1970s.
The study found the most substantial increases among women, older adults, racial and ethnic minorities and individuals with lower levels of education and income.
The increases were especially large among those 65 years and older, minorities and women, researchers report online August 9 in JAMA Psychiatry.
The authors of the study also said these increases go unnoticed because of other damaging substances.
Between 2002 and 2013, overall drinking increased by 11 percent.
The study presents data from two national surveys conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.
Heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are risk factors associated with health problems such as heart problems, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, cancer, and infections.
The study data were derived from face-to-face interviews conducted in two nationally representative surveys of USA adults: the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, with data collected from April 2001 to June 2002, and the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III, with data collected from April 2012 to June 2013. There were also increases in the rate of AUD among 12-month alcohol users (35.7%) and high-risk drinkers (17.2%). Among those seeing the greatest increase were adults 65 and older (up 65.2 percent), blacks (up 62.4 percent) and women (up 57.9 percent).
- Continued drinking despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to be caused or exacerbated by drinking.
Problems with alcohol increased by almost 50 percent. Rates of AUD, for instance, increased by 92.8% for African-Americans, and by 65.9% for those earning $20,000 or less. Alcohol use can also put older adults at a higher risk for a fall and for chronic diseases that can be caused by alcohol use.
Americans are drinking more than they used to - a lot more. In this study, high-risk drinking was defined as exceeding the daily drinking limits at least weekly during the prior 12 months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said excessive alcohol use led to about 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006 to 2010.
As for women, the results show a narrowing of the "gender gap" in drinking disorders, which is consistent with previous research.
Psychotherapist Alexis Michael joined Morning Dose on Thursday and said it's because women are catching up with men.
The study's findings, the authors wrote, "herein highlight the urgency of educating the public, policymakers, and health care professionals about high-risk drinking and AUD, destigmatizing these conditions and encouraging those who can not reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment".
Though the study reflects stark increases among the population overall, the most noticeable rises were in various population subgroups. They also noted that stress could be a major factor.