Do Americans Need to Put Down the Bottle?


A new research project into the drinking habits of Americans reveals that a higher number of us than previously thought are harming ourselves with alcohol consumption. According to this project, alcoholism increased a startling 49% between 2000 and 2010. What’s more, nearly one in four adults under the age of 30 met the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism. Among Americans of all ages, one in eight struggles with alcoholism.

What does this mean? It means that millions of Americans continue drinking even though alcohol consumption results in the following potential or real harm to themselves:

  • Impaired performance in school or at work or home
  • Engaging in hazardous activities such as driving or operating machinery while intoxicated
  • Social or interpersonal problems such as fights, arguments

Further, their use of alcohol is associated with:

  • Needing to have more drinks to get the desired effect
  • Planning their social or recreational activities around their drinking
  • Spending a great deal of time getting and drinking alcohol or recovering from its effects
  • Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms or experiencing withdrawal if drinking is stopped
  • Continuing to drink despite physical or psychological problems that were most likely caused or worsened by drinking.

What Happens to Chronic Alcoholics?

People who drink too much, too often, too consistently are going to be prone to all the physical and mental problems caused by alcohol. Like these:

Man drinking alcohol
  • Liver problems including cirrhosis and failure
  • Abnormal heartbeat with an increased risk of stroke or heart failure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cancer of the esophagus, mouth, liver, breast, rectum, colon
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory distress
  • Brain atrophy
  • Loss of cognitive ability and memory
  • Nerve damage

The odd thing about this list is that it sounds very much like the most common diseases causing death among Americans. Compare the list above with the list of leading causes of death from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Pneumonia
  • Kidney disease

The CDC concludes that alcohol kills 88,000 Americans each year. The World Health Organization estimates that alcohol kills more than three million people each year. That is vastly more than the number killed by drugs.

Of course, people who don’t drink suffer these diseases, too. But how much lower would the incidence of these diseases be if no American overindulged in alcohol? How much less heartbreak and abuse would the world suffer?

Man and little girl

We’ve already proven that it’s not possible to simply make alcohol illegal. Leaving alcoholism behind takes lots of one-on-one work with the alcoholic and lots of support. Preventing alcoholism in the next generation starts in the family, with setting a sober example, educating youth on the harm possible from overconsumption of alcohol and helping them set and achieve their own goals. What’s possibly most important is not simply sweeping this problem under the rug, but instead, helping those with problems break the pattern of alcohol abuse and living healthier and happier lives.

If someone you care about needs help breaking free from alcohol, call Narconon today at 1-877-445-7113. We can help.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.