An Updated Look at Alcoholism by the Numbers

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( — February 8, 2016) — Over the past few years, our political and legal system has been forced to address and reconsider the dangers and benefits of marijuana use. And while this is certainly an important issue to discuss, it seems like alcohol abuse has been pushed to the back burner. This is unfortunate, since it could be America’s most problematic public health issue of the 21st century.

According to a 2015 study released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, heavy drinking among Americans increased 17.2 percent between 2005 and 2012. This means that over just eight years, the number of people consuming large amounts of alcohol has risen more than it did in decades past.

This same study found that – in 2012 – 8.2 percent of Americans were classified as “heavy drinkers.” These are people who consume one drink per day on average over the course of an entire month. At the same time, an additional 18.3 percent fit the description of “binge drinkers” – or people who have four or more drinks in a single session.

While there is growth in all demographics, women have largely caused these dramatic increases. Binge drinking among men increased only 4.9 percent from 2005 to 2012, while it skyrocketed 17.5 percent among women.

The Consequences of America’s Alcohol Problem

When screening for patients, Georgia Drug Detox – like other detox centers throughout the country – frequently asks patients questions like these:

  • Has your addiction to alcohol caused your life to spiral out of control?
  • Do you need [alcohol] to function throughout the day, in order to avoid getting sick?
  • Do you drink alone, embarrassed or ashamed of your addiction?
  • Are your loved ones getting increasingly worried about your drinking habits?

While these may seem like strange questions to those who aren’t familiar with alcohol abuse, they are unfortunately all too familiar for addicts. And when alcohol abuse isn’t dealt with, it can lead to serious mental, physical, and relational problems. In particular, consider how alcohol is tearing apart American society each year:

  • Poisoning deaths. Each year in the U.S. there are more than 2,200 deaths related to alcohol poisoning. This comes out to an average of six deaths per day. Three in four of these deaths involve adults between the ages of 35-64, with the majority being men.
  • Liver disease. In 2009, the number of deaths related to alcoholic liver disease reached an incredibly depressing 15,183. This is becoming a very serious problem, as heavy drinkers who don’t die from alcohol poisoning frequently contract dangerous diseases like this.
  • Broken families. Alcohol tears thousands of families apart each year. It’s becoming such a big problem that it’s frequently reported as one of the leading causes of divorce and domestic abuse. As a result, children are often exposed to debilitating circumstances.

This is just a snapshot of America’s problem with alcoholism, abuse, and addiction. And if past trends are any indication of future issues, there’s going to be even more pain and illness in the coming months and years.

For those suffering from alcohol addiction, the good news is that there are plenty of resources available. From detox and rehabilitation centers to online support groups and healthcare professionals, those suffering from alcoholism and heavy drinking are not alone. However, something must be done now if the problem is to be curbed.