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Friday, November 22, 2013

Recession Plays A Part In Problem Drinking

The recession of 2008-2009 devastated families across the board with loss of jobs and home foreclosures. In a matter of months individuals and families found that they were without the means to support themselves, let alone keep a roof over their heads. It goes without saying that a number of people lacked healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the fallout of the economic explosion that rocked America; as a result, during that time period there were higher rates of problem drinking, according to a new study.

The study, which included 5,000 adults, found that those who were laid-off or lost their home were three times more likely to report symptoms of alcohol dependence, including getting into fights or accidents, and experiencing health problems or being arrested. The findings showed that the highest risk cases were in their 30s and 40s, most likely being a male, HealthDay reports.

The research is not indicative of economic hardship leading people to problem drinking. However, Nina Mulia, of the Alcohol Research Group and lead researcher of the study, pointed out that people drink to relax or to cope with stress and tension. “And so it wouldn’t be surprising if people who are dealing with severe stress — who were actually affected by job or housing loss — would turn to alcohol.”

Some younger adults, who lost their job or housing, moved back in with their families, so they received some support, according to Mulia. Middle-aged adults rarely had the option to turn to their family, due to having much higher expenses and their own families to support.

Hardship of any kind can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms amongst people from all walks of life. Grieving the loss of any thing in life, whether it be loved ones or employment, has driven even the strongest individuals to turn to vice. 

“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,” Mulia said in a news release. “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. This might mean that health programs should partner with unemployment offices, housing and social services, etc.”

The study will appear in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
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