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Alcohol Consumption in the US: A Rite of Passage or a Curse?

Have you ever wondered just how many gallons of alcohol are consumed in our country each year? Think of all the beer consumed during football games, all the alcohol served at parties and in bars, all the wine being served in restaurants, and the list goes on endlessly. Collectively, the amount of alcohol consumption in the US is enough to support the statement that our country is drowning in alcohol.

According to SAMHSA, over 65.5 billion beers were consumed, 13.7 billion glasses of wine and 29.3 billion drinks of distilled spirits were consumed in the US in one year. Also:

  • Americans consumed 6.3 billion gallons of beer last year
  • Over $19.9 billion is spent on liquor in America each year
  • Combined sales of beer, wine and liquor totaled over $162 billion dollars in a year
  • Beer makes up over 53% of all alcoholic beverages consumed in the US
  • Wine accounts for a little over 16% of alcohol consumed in the US

Any way you break it down, there is an astronomical amount of intoxicating beverages being poured and consumed every day in our nation alone. If all that alcohol were dumped in one place, we would need a boat to keep from drowning!

Alcohol Consumption as a Way of Life

Alcohol in America
Alcohol Use in America

In America, there are three milestones our adolescents look forward to crossing when they reach a certain age. Number one is getting their driver’s license at age sixteen Number two is finally graduating from high school at age seventeen or eighteen. Number three, for boys especially, is being able to buy beer and booze themselves when they turn twenty-one legally. Of course, these aren’t the only goals our kids have, but beer and booze are high on the list of goals for many kids today.

In countries all around the world, each society has a traditional “rite-of-passage” their youth must go through to be considered an adult. This holds especially true for males in many cultures because before they can be regarded as a “man”, they must perform some rather difficult or dangerous tasks. Imagine the reaction of American boys if they were told they must do any of the following:

  • In Australia, young boys must go on a “walkabout” with their father or other grown male for up to six months into the outback where they follow their ancestor’s trails and mimic the survival skills that were used back in the day.
  • In the Amazon, an adolescent boy goes through a large amount of pain when poison is poured into his eyes to enhance his vision and senses. He is then beaten and whipped. Next, he is injected with frog toxins to induce nausea and vomiting.
  • In East Africa, adolescent boys must hunt a lion using nothing but spears. This could take days because they must track down a strong, healthy lion, confront it, and then kill it.

Comparatively, in American, a boy feels like he’s finally a man based on his alcohol consumption abilities.  After he has guzzled a significant amount of alcohol very quickly, vomited profusely, and passed out for a few hours he feels like he’s all grown up. His buddies cheer him on, drinking along with him and passing out along with him. Sadly, his only “trophy” from this rite-of-passage is a massive hangover. From this point on, the young man could be plagued for the rest of his life with the curse of becoming a full-blown alcoholic, living in shame, penniless, and ultimately defeated. He didn’t realize that it takes more strength of character to refuse the alcohol than it does to drink it down.

Drowning in Alcohol: We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

In the US each day, over 4,700 youth under age 16 take their first alcoholic drink. Also, over 10.4 million young people ages 12 to 20, reported drinking in the past month. Add those to the number of adults who consume alcohol, and it’s natural to assume the problem is getting worse, and the ocean of alcohol we pour and drink is getting deeper. It’s a shame a bigger boat won’t help this issue. Instead, we need to find a way to keep kids away from alcohol, to begin with, and find ways to get treatment for those who have already succumbed to the alcohol consumption effects.

Getting drunk is easy. It’s all fun when everyone is laughing and dancing. The hard part is not taking that drink. Saying no. It might mean finding different friends. It means learning to define who you are by what you don’t do, instead of by what you did while drinking. It could mean the difference between respect and ridicule.

If you feel you are drowning in alcohol, don’t expect someone in a big boat to rescue you. Save yourself. We have the expertise and desire to help you overcome alcohol addiction. All you have to do is pick up the phone and call now to get started on a better future for yourself and your family.

Sources:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use

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