But what's even more concerning is that "high-risk drinking" increased by nearly 30%, meaning more people were finding themselves having four or five - or more - drinks per day at least once a week.
"The results of this study call for a broader effort to address the individual, biological, environmental and societal factors that influence high-risk drinking and [alcohol use disorder] and their considerable consequences and economic costs to society ($250 billion) to improve the health, safety and well-being of the nation", the authors, Bridget F. Grant, S. Patricia Chou and Tulshi D. Saha, wrote in the study. The demographics also included older Americans, minorities and people with lower levels of education and payment. One in eight American adults, or 12.7 percent of the US population, now meets diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder, according to the study.
However, the group that saw the highest increase in alcohol abuse disorders actually wasn't women or minorities.
The juvenile drinking is on the rise in America and so is the consumption of alcohol by adults which has increased manifold.
The findings suggest "a public health crisis", the researchers say, given the fact that high-risk drinking is linked to a number of diseases and psychiatric problems, as well as violence, crime and crashes. High-risk drinking and AUD, for instance, increased for women by 57.9% and 83.7%, respectively - compared with increases of just 15.5% and 34.7% for men. There were also increases in the rate of AUD among 12-month alcohol users (35.7%) and high-risk drinkers (17.2%). Among black people, it increased by 92.8 percent.
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And among older adults, abuse and dependence more than doubled.
The authors of the study also said these increases go unnoticed because of other damaging substances. And it's worrying, because older adults at are a high risk of death, injury or disease connected to alcohol use - from falls, for instance, or from adverse interactions between drugs and drinking.
Overall, alcohol use disorders rose by nearly 50%, affecting a projected 8.5% of the population during the first research period, and 12.7% during the second.
These trends troubled researchers, who wrote "these findings portend increases in many chronic comorbidities in which alcohol use has a substantial role". While there was no clear reason as to the increases, researchers claimed it constitutes a "public health crisis" on par with the current national opioid crisis. The study noted that less than 10% of AUD cases are treated, while Psychology Today reported that only 19.8% of those with AUD even seek treatment in the first place.
"Light drinking has been shown to be helpful for people's health overall, but heavy drinking can lead to some harms and impairment", Deborah Hasin, the study's lead author and a Columbia University professor, said to Business Insider.