ALCOHOLISM IN THE MODERN AGE

Statistics show alcohol addiction continues to kill

Every day, more than 270 Americans die from excessive alcohol consumption. According to the site Alcohol Addiction, 100,000 people die annually due to alcohol abuse and events that stem from excessive drinking.

Most children and adults who become problem drinkers begin drinking socially and sparingly until it becomes more and more integral in their everyday lives.

Consider the following facts about modern alcoholism:

  • 3 million teens between ages 14 and 17 are problem drinkers.
  • 1 in 13 adults abuse alcohol or are alcoholic.
  • 43% of adults claim to have an alcoholic in their family.
  • Alcohol abuse in the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

As a society, Americans have become comfortable with alcohol use. A survey conducted by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that slightly more than half of the adults asked are considered to be regular drinkers, meaning they consume more than 12 alcoholic drinks a year.

Ted Harrison, a counselor with Wauona Consulting and Training in Chaska, Minn., says that it’s the inert trust and comfort members of society feel toward alcohol that makes it such an easy drug to overuse.

“There are politically correct and politically incorrect addictions,” Harrison said. “Alcohol is a politically correct addiction. There’s almost a pride in it for some. One by one, priorities get set aside until all that’s left is the focus of the addiction.”

Harrison likens it to a switch that goes off in people who abuse alcohol that turns them into full-fledged alcoholics. Once that happens, the only option is complete abstinence from any intoxicant.

“There are two types of people who say alcohol is not a problem,” Harrison said. “Alcoholics and people who don’t have a problem with alcohol.”

The website Alcoholism Facts gives a succinct definition of alcoholism:

Dependence on alcohol where there is always a strong need or craving to drink is known as alcoholism. When this craving for alcohol is indulged, it leads to loss of control where the person lacks the ability to limit his drinking. He becomes physically dependent such that if he doesn’t consume alcohol, he goes into withdrawal symptoms like sweating, shaking, nausea, and even anxiety. Without help, a person addicted to alcohol will build a tolerance for the substance wherein he needs to drink greater amounts in order to get high.

Paul Kurr is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for more than four years. The following video tells his story:

For people who have legitimate concern as to whether or not they are alcoholic, Harrison says the easiest way to tell is how they react to a month of sobriety.

“If you stop drinking for 30 to 45 days, an alcohol abuser will feel better,” Harrison said, “but an addict will feel worse, because this will be the lowest point of their detox.”

Harrison also believes society has come a long way in providing assistance and resources for addicts who recognize their disease.

“There was a time when, if you were diagnosed as an alcoholic, it was a curse of death,” Harrison said. “Now there are AA and 12 step programs all over and, though they’re not treatment, they can help in getting people sober.”

The website AlcoholScreening.org has put together a test that people can take to help determine whether their drinking has reached a point where they need assistance.

Ultimately, Harrison says that it is up to society to address the growing problem of alcohol addiction.

“We are raised in a culture of addiction,” Harrison said, “whether it’s alcohol, drugs or money. People buy t-shirts will beer advertisements and then give them to their kids.”