A new study by Age UK has revealed a surprising trend: adults aged 50 or over that are highly educated are at a higher risk to drink more than their less successful peers. The surprising results revealed that alcohol use is a hidden and rising health and social problem for the middle class.
Although this study surveyed the UK population, we can extrapolate that information and apply it to trends in the U.S. In America, alcohol abuse continues to be an epidemic. Millions of Americans struggle with alcohol addiction but do not get the help they need.
A Middle Class Phenomenon
The above-mentioned research was done by the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA). It included 9,000 men and women aged 50 and older from 2008/2009 and again in 2010/2011. The study found that active, sociable, and healthy middle-class adults aged 50 or older, were much more likely to drink than those who were less well-off financially. Results indicated that drinking is a “middle class phenomenon.”
Links To Explain The Phenomenon
Economist Jose Iparraguirre, of Age UK, authored the research study. He claims that his findings indicate drinking is more likely to occur with those who have a more affluent lifestyle and who are undergoing a successful aging process. Adults aging successfully are have strong health, higher incomes, higher educational backgrounds, and are socially active.
Those benefits give them more free time to enjoy drinking and these behaviors can unfortunately lead to health and social problems. The researchers were also able to find other links that might be insights into this dangerous drinking trend.
Retirement was also a risk factor for increased alcohol consumption for women, but not men. Links to men and women’s educational background and their smoking habits also gave insights into drinking behaviors.
Warning For Women
A different study brought even more troubling results. A growing number of middle class professional women are drinking at dangerous levels to fit in with the macho workplace cultures. Women are often in heavily male-dominated workplace environments and middle class women in these environments often engage in dangerous drinking behaviors to “keep up with the guys.”
Many women begin to drink at a younger age and continue this pattern into their 30s and 40s at home. Many office parties, social outings such as dinners or meetings, or other office gatherings may involve alcohol. The study revealed that professional middle class women are more likely to be heavy alcohol consumers. The study also found that women with more education tend to be more hazardous drinkers.
Middle Class Trends In The U.S.
How can we apply this information gathered from UK research and apply it to the U.S? First of all, the prevalence of adults that drink alcohol in the U.S. is high. In 2013 alone, 86.8% of Americans 18 years or older reported they drank alcohol, with 70.7% noting they drank in the past year and 56.4% reporting they drank within the last month.
In the United States 16.6 million adults have an alcohol use disorder, but only around 1.3 million received treatment. Middle class families in the United States are defined as households or individuals that make between $35,000 and $100,000 annually. And although trends point to the shrinking of the middle class, in 2008 44% of Americans identified themselves as middle class.
The Economy And Work Environment
Another potential factor that might affect American middle class drinking behavior is the current economy. The economy, while improved, has still been struggling. Many middle class Americans are suffering from decreased working hours, being let go from companies, or are unable to find stable work in today’s economy.
In an article released December 14, 2015, Forbes announced that the U.S. economy is still missing 6.4 million jobs. These job stressors have impacted the middle class and are one reason alcohol is becoming a coping mechanism for many people.
While alcohol addiction can happen at any job, the places that experience workplace alcoholism the most are:
- Mining and drilling
- Food service
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
Regardless of class, alcohol abuse is on the rise here in the United States today. Addiction can happen to anyone regardless of race, class, gender, or other factors. If you or a loved one is struggling from an alcohol addiction or other substance abuse disorder, we can help. If you are concerned that you are suffering from a drinking problem, please contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net to get the help you need.