When we think of addiction, our thoughts often go to illegal drugs, and narcotics that are bought and sold on the streets and back alleys of inner cities and bad neighborhoods. However, one of the most addictive drugs in the world is entirely legal, very easy to get, and almost universally accepted. We are speaking, of course, of alcohol.
We might not think of alcohol when we think of the world’s most addictive or harmful drug, but alcohol is up there, completely dwarfing narcotic drugs and mind-altering substances. Alcohol is a drug, in every sense of the word, and just because it is legal in the United States and other countries does not mean it is harmless.
In the U.S., we love our alcohol. That just goes without saying. Alcohol consumption has become a regular part of our lives and such a frequent and normal occurrence that we don’t even think twice about.
Excessive alcohol consumption is killing more people than drug overdoses, but you see almost nothing about this problem in the headlines. We take a closer look at the depth of this challenge to social and individual health.
Alcohol use during pregnancy damages millions of children and costs hundreds of billions of dollars but this harm is almost completely overlooked by the media and health organizations.
It’s not hard to see plenty of signs that alcohol consumption —even excessive consumption—among women is being normalized. Taken one at a time, these signs may not be startling. But step back and look at the bigger picture and things look a little more sinister.
Alcohol ads make drinking look like a lot of fun or a sure way to attract the opposite sex. But if you think about it for a minute, that might not be all of the story. If you watch any kind of cable or broadcast television, you’ve seen ads for alcohol.
It does not take a wise man or woman to know that alcohol is a more or less unhealthy substance and that drinking too much of it can have a very harmful effect on the human body.
When people hear that alcohol is the most addictive drug in the world, their instantaneous response is usually one of disbelief. Most people do not believe this to be true, because after all, everyone drinks, right? Certainly, except for perhaps cigarettes, and maybe sugar or coffee, alcohol is the most commonly used substance that could be considered to be addictive.
While the American public was busy with other matters, the alcoholic beverage industry and certain scientists conspired to prove that alcohol consumption improves health, ignoring existing science showing a definite connection between alcohol and cancer, among other problems.