Investigative journalism from Stat News, Wired and the New York Times recently revealed how the alcohol industry is influencing the kind of research the National Institutes of Health will conduct as the NIH seeks funding for alcohol research. That story simply adds more evidence to what some journalists and public health folks have been pointing out: alcohol is one of the most dangerous, destructive drugs there is, but it rarely gets treated as such. Continue reading
It’s legal. It is readily accessible and requires no prescription to purchase. It’s socially acceptable. Yet, it can cause myriad health risks for older adults, from balance problems and falls to drug interactions to death.
“It” is alcohol — a growing concern among clinical and mental health professionals caring for our older population. Continue reading
When JAMA Psychiatry published a study about alcohol use disorder prevalence a few weeks ago, the findings predictably led to a flood of stories about an apparently rapidly growing alcoholism public health crisis in the United States.
The study claimed a nearly 50 percent increase in alcohol use disorder prevalence since a decade earlier, a staggering increase by any measure. Continue reading
Everywhere he travels, Vivek Murthy, M.D., surgeon general of the United States, hears a similar plea from families.
Do something about the drugs ruining our communities and our families. Help us fight the opioid epidemic.
On Saturday, at the awards luncheon attended by hundreds of AHCJ members at Health Journalism 2016, Murthy promised to respond by mobilizing the medical community and issuing the first surgeon general’s report on substance abuse, addiction and health later this year. Continue reading
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a bombshell alcohol recommendation to women on Feb. 2 that led to an explosion of responses. I was among those who commented on the fray, and I primarily addressed how the evidence itself about alcohol and pregnancy was obscured by the resulting backlash.
I also mentioned that I had previously interpreted the evidence differently over several years of covering periodic studies about light drinking and pregnancy. I didn’t go into a great deal of detail, however, on how I made that switch, and I thought that process might be instructive for other health journalists covering such controversial issues in which the science can be confusing. Writing about risk, in particular, can be incredibly thorny. Continue reading
Binge drinking and heavy drinking in the United States increased significantly in recent years, particularly among women, according to a new study presented today by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
While the overall rate of drinking remained constant between 2005 and 2012, heavy drinking increased 17.2 percent and binge drinking increased 8.9 percent during that time.
Heavy drinking was defined as averaging more than one drink per day during the past month (for women) or two drinks (for men). Binge drinking was defined as having four or more drinks at one occasion in the past month (for women) and five or more (for men). Continue reading