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Alcohol-related ER visits are increasing rapidly

Despite barely any change in drinking rates, there has been a significant increase in alcohol-related ER visits in the last 10 years. 

There were 61.6 percent more hospitalizations from drinking in 2014 compared to 2006, according to new research – but overall alcohol consumption only increased two percent during that same time period.

The increase was particularly stark among women hospitalized after consuming more than eight to 10 drinks within two hours. 

It’s not clear why women are drinking more, but previous studies have suggested that it may be a result of changed social norms – with added stress to work and raise children, while it is more acceptable for women to drink in ways men have historically. 

New research shows that the rate of alcohol-related ER visits in the US increased 61.6 percent between 2006 and 2014, while drinking rates rose a mere two percent during this time

Researchers found that rates of alcohol related ER visits rose by five percent among women, compared to four percent among men.

Alcohol misuse has long been more prevalent among men than women, but recent studies have shown that the gender gap is narrowing because women are drinking more. 

A Harvard study published last year found that binge drinking, defined as consuming four or more drinks within two hours, increased by 3.7 percent annually for older women between 1997 and 2014, but held steady among older men.

‘We know that baby boomers, roughly aged 50 to 70, drink more than people older or younger than they are and this age group is growing in size,’ Dr Aaron White of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism told Daily Mail Online.

‘These changes probably contribute to the increase in alcohol-related ER visits,’ Dr White added.

Another study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that binge drinking and alcohol abuse in women increased by nearly 60 and 84 percent, respectively, between 2002 and 2013. While men only saw a 15 and 35 percent increase.

Alcohol is the most commonly used intoxicant in the US.

More than 70 percent of people ages 18 and older reporting that they consumed alcohol in the past year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Studies have linked moderate alcohol consumption — up  to one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men — to certain health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a lower risk of diabetes in women.

But while man people consume alcohol moderately, one in five people drink ‘two or more times the standard gender-specific binge thresholds at least once per year,’ researchers said in the study.

Heavy drinking has been linked to more than 200 health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease and digestive problems. 

Alcohol consumption is responsible for more than 88,000 deaths each year between 2006 and 2010 in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr White said he’s hopeful the findings will lead to ‘innovations in strategies to prevent alcohol-related ER visits from happenings and to prevent return visits if they do.’ 

Researchers believe brief interventions for patients in the ER could help decrease the likelihood of alcohol-related health issues in the future.   


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