The opioid drug crisis that has plagued our nation for years is not a new story, as it has gained major attention from lawmakers and news networks in the past several years. But as opioid addiction is front and center in all of our minds, are we easily forgetting about a much deadlier crisis? The alcohol epidemic is a silent one that has persisted for much longer than that of narcotics, and while both are dangerous and worth addressing, the former seems to have slipped through the cracks. As a result, thousands of people have suffered the effects of chronic drinking. Our Pennsylvania rehab is sharing more on the alcoholism epidemic, its impact on the nation, and how we can support those who have been affected.
What You Should Know About Alcoholism
Although alcohol addiction is one of the oldest forms of substance abuse, it has seemingly been put on the back burner for other, more illicit forms of addiction. While dependence on any substance is dangerous and should be treated as such, alcohol is especially dangerous for a variety of reasons.
Alcohol addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder associated with compulsive alcohol consumption, the loss of control over alcohol use, and the occurrence of a negative emotional state when alcohol is not available. Also referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD), this condition is characterized by an inability to stop or control one’s alcohol use despite the related adverse social, occupational, relational, or health consequences.
Not only has alcohol been linked to fatal car crashes, alcohol poisoning, and addiction to other substances, but there is much evidence showing a correlation between alcohol addiction and major health issues, which can inevitably lead to death. These illnesses include cirrhosis, liver disease, and various forms of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, esophagus, and even breast.
Over recent years, some major statistics on alcohol abuse have made clear the nation’s growing drinking problems:
- Of the 78,529 liver disease deaths among individuals 12 and older in 2015, 47% involved alcohol.
- Of the 48,695 men that died of liver disease, alcohol was involved in 49.5% of the cases.
- Among 28,834 females, 43.5% were involved in alcohol.
- In 2013, alcohol was involved in 47.9% of all cirrhosis deaths in the U.S.
- In 2019, there were 23,780 deaths from alcoholic cirrhosis among 224,981,167 Americans ages 25 to 85 and older, resulting in a mortality rate of 10.6 per 100,000.
- Between 10% and 20% of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis, usually after 10 or more years of drinking. Anything that damages the liver over the years can cause the liver to develop scar tissue, making regular functioning more difficult.
What’s more, alcohol has also been attributed to other various life and health consequences. For instance, most recent reports reveal that the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) is as high as 1 for every 1,000 live births in certain areas of the U.S. The most recent CDC study found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children from ages 7 to 9 years.
Other issues linked to the alcoholism and binge drinking epidemic include the following:
- An alarming 97,000 college students reported experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape in 2015.
- According to the CDC, 32 people are killed every day in the U.S. in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. This equates to one death every 45 minutes.
- Over 1,500 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related accidental injuries each year.
- Approximately 20% of college women, or 1 in 5, are sexually assaulted during their time in college. The majority of those assaults involve drugs or alcohol.
- Each year, 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who had been drinking.
- In 2019, nearly 10% of college students met the criteria for alcohol use disorder.
- In 2019, half of the children under 1-year-old (50.7%) who were removed from their homes and placed in out-of-home care had parental alcohol or other drug abuse as an identified condition of removal.
Finally, here is arguably the most staggering statistic concerning the alcohol epidemic. Alcohol kills three million people throughout the world every year. This equates to 5.3% of all human deaths annually. About 1 in every 20 deaths worldwide is the result of alcohol-related disease, injury, accident, murder, or suicide.
Why Has the Alcohol Epidemic Been Ignored?
Chronic alcoholism death, along with various other ongoing issues, seems to have taken a backseat to other issues. It may have to do with the fact that alcoholism has been prevalent in our country for decades, and most of society has basically gotten used to it. Additionally, while it poses just as many risks as other drugs, the stigma attached to alcohol use no longer exists.
America has simply become accustomed to alcohol, and it is much more socially acceptable. Although regulations surrounding alcohol and its use have evolved over the past several decades, there is still much work that could be done. Similar to opioids, more prevention methods and resources should be put in place, such as educating our youth at an earlier age about the effects of alcoholism.
Additionally, evidence shows that raising the tax on alcohol can reduce alcohol-related harms, such as drunk driving. Studies also show that by regulating and limiting the number of alcohol stores and/or outlets, alcohol-related injuries, violence, and crime are greatly reduced.
We do not suggest that alcohol be banned entirely from Americans, as prohibition proved to be anything but successful. But, as with anything that causes as much harm as alcohol addiction does, clearly, more needs to be done. As we consider various methods of addressing the opioid epidemic within our country, alcohol addiction should be measured in the same light and with the same provocation.
Our Alcohol Help Hotline & Addiction Treatment
If you or a loved one is currently struggling with alcohol addiction, you should know that help is available for you. For 45 years, our drug rehab in Pennsylvania has been providing the highest quality drug and alcohol treatment services to chemically dependent people and offering educational services to the affected family members.
If you or someone you know needs help, please do not wait any longer. Please call Clearbrook Treatment Centers today at 570-536-9621 or contact our Admissions Specialists to learn more about our addiction treatment in Pennsylvania. We are available 24 hours a day to assist you with all of your needs.
- Keck School of Medicine of USC – Alcohol Misuse and Alcoholic Liver Disease
- American Liver Foundation – Alcohol-Related Liver Disease
- The American Journal of Medicine – Alarming Trends: Mortality from Alcoholic Cirrhosis in the United States
- CDC – Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs)
- CDC – Impaired Driving: Get the Facts
- NIH – College Drinking
- National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare – Child Welfare and Alcohol and Drug Use Statistics
- World Health Organization – Harmful use of alcohol kills more than 3 million people each year, most of them men
- The Community Guide – Task Force Recommends Increasing Alcohol Taxes to Prevent Excessive Alcohol Use and Other Harms
- NIH – Regulating Availability: How Access to Alcohol Affects Drinking and Problems in Youth and Adults