Alcohol abuse is on the rise in the United States, especially among women and teen drinkers. Previously, it was men who disproportionately made up the ranks of alcohol abusers, but women are closing that gap, especially when it comes to binge drinking. Increased stressors in life and the troubled economy are believed to be important factors leading to the increased incidence of alcohol abuse.
Alcohol Use in the United States
Alcohol is considered to be the number one drug problem in the United States, with approximately 75 percent of all adults drinking alcoholic beverages, at least on occasion. Fifty percent of the US population drinks alcoholic beverages on a regular basis. Approximately 30 percent of all adults are problem drinkers, meaning they either abuse alcohol or are alcoholics.
Why Alcohol Abuse is Increasing
Although there is no known specific cause to the increase in alcohol abuse, factors such as stress and the faltering economy with an increase in unemployment appear to play important roles. Alcohol can temporarily reduce stress and promote feelings of happiness and relaxation. Also, those who are unemployed are under a lot of stress and have more time to engage in drinking behaviors than when they were working. Continued drinking can lead to alcohol abuse. Seventy-three percent of teenagers claim that their decision to drink alcohol is based on whether or not their parents drink.
Alcohol abuse occurs when an individual continues to drink alcoholic beverages even when he or she experiences negative consequences due to drinking. Another form of alcohol abuse is binge drinking. Health, relationships, and social obligations are negatively affected by drinking on the part of the alcohol abuser. Physical dependence may occur, with the result of increased tolerance and the experiencing of withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is stopped.
Alcohol and Health
Drinking alcoholic beverages can have negative effects on health. Alcoholics are ten times more likely to develop blood disorders, infections, and cancer than those who are not abusing alcohol. Also, about 13 percent of sick employees miss work due to alcohol-related issues. More than 25 percent of hospital admissions are due to drinking alcohol, while 95 percent of alcoholics die from the diseases or related health conditions. Left untreated, alcohol abuse can lead to many health issues including:
- Liver disease
- Many types of cancer
- Trouble with immune system functioning
- Nervous system trouble
- Heart disease
- Brain damage
Drunk drivers cost the United States approximately $50 billion dollars each year. Because of drunk driving, injuries occur every minute and a death occurs approximately every 30 minutes. Approximately half of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers. More than a third of all pedestrians killed on the road are drunk.
Recovery from Alcohol Abuse
If drinking is causing problems, it is important to get help to overcome alcohol abuse problems. If the drinking problem is severe, hospitalization may be required to get through withdrawal, as the process can be dangerous. It is important for those who need help to enter an inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab program designed to meet their needs. Most inpatient alcohol rehab centers offer detoxing at the facility which is a big benefit for patients.