About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Recession Leads to Adverse Alcohol Outcomes for Men and Middle-Aged Americans

by Bidita Debnath on November 20, 2013 at 9:14 PM
Font : A-A+

 Recession Leads to Adverse Alcohol Outcomes for Men and Middle-Aged Americans

Economic downturns can have adverse health-related consequences, including higher rates of suicide and poorer mental health.

  • New research looks at different types of economic loss and associated alcohol consumption/ problems.
  • The most adverse effects of severe economic loss on drunkenness and alcohol problems were concentrated among men and the middle-aged.

  • Advertisement

    Although the U.S. recession officially ended in June 2009, many Americans still struggle to make ends meet. A recent study has examined the relationship between different types of economic loss experienced during the recession - job loss, reduced work hours/pay, difficulty paying for housing, housing loss, and loss of retirement savings - and alcohol consumption and problems, finding that men and middle-aged Americans are at higher risk for multiple, adverse alcohol outcomes.

    Results will be published in the April 2014 online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.
    Advertisement

    "Research suggests that economic downturns can have severe impacts on stress and mental health," said Nina Mulia, a scientist with the Alcohol Research Group of the Public Health Institute and lead author of the study. "A 2009 study of 26 European Union countries found that a mass rise in unemployment such as three percent led to significantly higher suicide rates among people under age 65. Additionally, a 2011 longitudinal study using U.S. data showed that increased unemployment was linked to declining psychological health. Furthermore, a recent review of many individual-level studies concluded that job loss is associated with a greater risk for depression and anxiety symptoms."

    "This study brings us a long way towards confirming how much economic shocks impact peoples' health," added Laura A. Schmidt, a professor of health policy at UCSF School of Medicine. "It emphasizes the role of economic stress - what it's like to lose a job, a house, a retirement 'nest egg'—and how much that impacts a person's state of mind and leads to problems with drinking. The authors note that the price of alcohol has gone down a lot in recent years. Maybe this made it easier for people stressed out by the recession - and the personal toll it took on their own families and themselves - to overcome the inhibition to buy alcohol. It's understandable when a person is in such a terrible place, fearing for his economic future, and feeling responsible for his family."

    "Our study is an individual-level study focusing on economic loss experienced during a severe recession and how this relates to drinking patterns and problems," explained Mulia. "Unlike many prior studies focused on unemployment and alcohol consumption, we assessed different types of economic loss that were common during this last recession, and a variety of distinct alcohol outcomes."

    Mulia and her colleagues drew on data from the 2009-10 U.S. National Alcohol Survey for 5,382 individuals (3,445 females, 1,937 males). They estimated associations between economic loss measures and total alcohol consumed in the previous year, frequency of drunkenness (a key predictor of alcohol-related problems), negative drinking consequences, and alcohol dependence in the overall sample as well as within gender and age groups (18-29, 30-49, 50+), while controlling for demographic characteristics and alcohol history.

    "In the overall sample, people who experienced severe economic loss, such as job or housing loss, were at greater risk for monthly drunkenness and alcohol-related problems, even after taking into account an individual's history of alcohol problems prior to the recession," said Mulia. "Those who experienced only moderate economic loss appeared to have drinking outcomes similar to those who were unaffected by the recession. Our subgroup analyses suggest that the effects of severe economic loss on drunkenness and alcohol problems were mostly concentrated among men and the middle-aged. They also showed that relatively moderate though common losses, such as a reduction in work hours/pay and the loss of retirement savings, were actually associated with increased drinking in some subgroups - specifically, women and older adults - though not drunkenness."

    "For a long time, alcohol researchers took it as a truism that people with lower incomes are less likely to buy alcohol, and therefore less likely to have alcohol problems," added Schmidt. "This study kind of turns that assumption on its head. In a period of national economic distress, where more than half the population reports being personally affected by an economic downturn, people suffering the most severe forms of economic loss are likely to turn to alcohol for a stress-reliever. Unfortunately, some of the most severe manifestations of stress involve alcohol-related harms that could involve others—like drinking and driving and family violence. This is where we all need to, as a society, think about how we can do a better job at buffering vulnerable people from the harms that come with major economic downturns. This is important particularly because kids are affected by these harms."

    Mulia and Schmidt noted that men and middle-aged Americans might be more affected by the experience of severe economic loss due to several reasons: gender norms around drinking, childrearing and family responsibilities that may constrain heavy drinking among women, and the fact that men are still, in many families, the primary breadwinners; furthermore, the middle-aged are likely responsible for the economic wellbeing of others, both young children and possibly aging parents.

    "Clinicians are already doing a lot to promote screening and brief intervention on alcohol problems," said Schmidt. "This study points clinicians towards specific target populations to worry about during future economic downturns - [men and] the middle-aged. These 'vulnerable populations' are those who, when faced with particular challenges, are the most likely to resort to health behaviors that harm themselves and others."

    Mulia agreed, pointing out "when people lose jobs or housing, or have their hours/salaries cut, visiting the doctor might not be a priority, especially if they have lost their health insurance. So we need ways to reach the people who have been most impacted by economic loss and link them with alcohol screening and brief interventions, as well as other health education and prevention efforts," she said. "This might mean that health programs should partner with unemployment offices, housing and social services, etc."

    Mulia also pointed to the health benefits of a strong public safety net. "In addition to alcohol intervention, it is important to consider more broadly what might protect health and social welfare during macroeconomic crises," she said. "Research suggests that the adverse impacts of a recession on population health depend, in part, on social safety-net programs available in a given country. Initiatives and programs to foster job retention and housing retention, to help people to become re-employed, food programs - all of these might be important in reducing the adverse health impacts of a recession."

    Source: Eurekalert
    Advertisement

    Advertisement
    News A-Z
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
    News Category
    What's New on Medindia
    Health Benefits of Sea Buckthorn
    Contraceptive Pills in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Curtail Type 2 Diabetes Risk
    Mushroom May Help Cut Down the Odds of Developing Depression
    View all

    Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

    More News on:
    Alcoholic Liver Disease Alcoholism Cannabis Drug Abuse Alcohol and Driving Bubbles and Brews - Alcohol Facts Pancreatitis Alcohol Addiction and Women Drug Detox PLAC Test for Cardiovascular Disease 

    Recommended Reading
    Amsterdam Pays Alcoholics Beer and Cigarettes to Clean the Streets
    In Amsterdam, at nine o'clock in the morning in a garden shed behind a house, a handful of ......
    Medication+Therapy Linked to Longer Abstinence in Alcohol-Dependent Patients
    Treatment for alcohol dependency that includes better services and stepped-up rationale seems to ......
    Alcohol-Related Hypertension Linked to Facial Flushing
    Excessive drinking shows higher risk of hypertension. ...
    You Could Soon be Hearing About Healthy Alcohol
    Within two years we may have the opportunity to raise a toast to healthy alcohol which reportedly .....
    Alcohol Addiction and Women
    Social drinking amongst women has become a fad. Stop it before it finishes you....
    Alcohol and Driving
    Alcohol and driving do not mix. Drunken driving is the cause of many deaths in the world....
    Alcoholic Liver Disease
    Encyclopedia section of medindia gives general information about Alcoholic Liver Disease....
    Alcoholism
    Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism is an inability to control drinking. It can cause short term and ...
    Bubbles and Brews - Alcohol Facts
    There is more to alcohol than mere intoxication. Infamous because of its social abuse but indispensa...
    Cannabis
    Cannabis has a long history of medicinal, recreational, and industrial use and comes from a bushy pl...
    Drug Abuse
    The use of Drugs for reasons other than its prescribed recommendation, is known as Drug abuse or sub...
    Drug Detox
    Drug detoxification (or drug detox) is a process that helps drug addicts to give up drugs with less ...
    Pancreatitis
    Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas may show up as acute pancreatitis or chronic pain. Alco...
    PLAC Test for Cardiovascular Disease
    Ensure your heart health by getting a PLAC test. Prevent heart attack and stroke by detecting your r...

    Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

    © All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

    This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use