I’ve been drinking less – primarily because I got tired of waking up feeling crappy after a night out. And the older I get, the more motivated I am to making each day fabulous and if that means less alcohol, so be it.
I’d seen many studies reporting that Americans are drinking less. As it turns out, those figures related to millennials who are more sober than we boomers.
- In one recent study, 52% of millennials reported not drinking at all the previous week vs. only 34% of boomers who reported the same.
- Many speculate millennials aren’t drinking because they can’t afford it. Cocktailing is chic but expensive.
- But the problem for boomers is off-premise drinking. As the first generation of home-drinkers, boomers are drinking more than their parents did and their health is starting to suffer as a result.
How many of us stick to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on drinking: one drink per day for women, two for men??
Experts are suggesting we may need price increases and tighter controls on alcohol promotions to combat this rising tide of alcoholism. Hello, Prohibition – and interestingly, prior to prohibition, the drinking rate was four times higher than it is now.
As to why we’re seeing such an increase in drinking, several of the research studies point specifically to age-related issues (e.g. retirement, bereavement, loneliness) as well as economic reasons:
- Increasing numbers of people feel pessimistic about their economic chances. This might help explain the increase in drinking among low-income Americans. Economists have linked the economy to so-called deaths of despair from causes including opioid overdoses and alcohol abuse.
Here are some of the most alarming statistics and trends on boomer drinking/drug usage:
- By 2020, over-50s receiving treatment for substance misuse problems is expected to triple in the US, while doubling in Europe
- Between 2002 and 2013, the share of Americans who are considered “high-risk” drinkers increased by 30%
- Heavy drinking is increasing most among the elderly and certain minority groups: Alcoholism among Americans over 65 jumped 107%; among black Americans it rose 93%
- The number of alcoholic women rose to 9% from 5% in 2002.
- Many social drinkers “binge” without knowing it e.g. women who drink four or more drinks on an occasion are binge-drinking. What a night out looks like: start with a cocktail, then add wine with dinner. Note: 5 oz counts as a serving, considerably less than the pours at many restaurants/bars
See below for sources and links to studies.
Link to study cited: here