What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction is a growing problem and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s 2019 data, 25.8% of adults aged 18 and over reported binge drinking. There are an estimated 14.5-million people living with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) but less than 10% receive treatment for alcohol addiction.
Alcohol-Related Crimes in the US
Alcohol impairs your judgment and can result in you being more likely to engage in risky behaviors. It also affects your impulse control and can make you more prone to violence. The period 2005 to 2007 saw a steady increase in alcohol-related crimes, rising from 17.9% in 2005 to 18.7% in 2007.
Alcohol-related crimes reached a peak in 2008, accounting for 19.4% of all crimes, after the collapse of the US housing bubble and the economic downturn that culminated in the global financial crisis.
Since 2008, we have seen a steady decrease in the prevalence of alcohol-related crimes to 17,4% in 2013.
Some of the crimes that are most likely to be committed under the influence of alcohol include assault, intimate partner violence, child abuse and neglect, homicide, and sexual assault.
Deaths Related to Alcohol Abuse in the US
During the period 2015 to 2019, more than 140 000 people lost their lives due to excessive alcohol consumption. This equates to 380 people a day. The people who died had their lifespans reduced by an average of 26 years. The demographics affected the most were adults over the age of 35 and males. The deaths were mostly due to chronic alcohol consumption, such as cancers and heart and liver disease.
Binge drinking accounted for premature loss of life in half of the total years of life lost through causes like suicide, motor vehicle crashes, and poisonings. In 2010 excessive drinking cost the economy $249-billion.
Alcohol’s Effect on Our Economy
California has the largest alcohol economy in the United States. There are 92 000 alcohol licenses which account for 7% of California’s businesses. The State and excise taxes on the sale of alcoholic beverages generates more than $376-million per annum in revenue for the State.
Off-premises sales of alcohol increased by 20% every week in California from March 2020 to 2021, prompting California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to introduce a new string of legislation.
During the pandemic, California’s wine sales increased in volume by 1%, with a total of 240.3 million cases shipped across the United States, with an estimated retail value of $40-billion. Including exports, California’s wine market increased by 2% compared to 2019, with a total of 279.2-million cases. The increase in sales is attributed to the closure of restaurants and bars and an increase in availability in retail and grocery stores for home consumption
Alcohol’s Effect on the Family
The exact number of people born with FAS is unknown but efforts have been made to research its prevalence. The CDC statistics for fetal alcohol syndrome were calculated using medical records and estimate that 0.2 to 1.5 infants in every 1000 live births are born with FAS. When in-person assessments have been carried out on children of school-going age, higher estimates of 6 to 9 per 1000 have been reported in some communities. It is further estimated that FAS costs the US economy $4-billion per annum (2002 data), and the lifetime cost for an individual born with FAS is $2-million.
The findings of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released in 2022 reveal that 14% of pregnant women reported drinking and 5% reported binge drinking in the 30 days prior to the survey.
Pregnant women who had frequent mental distress, defined as having 14 or more days of poor mental health in the preceding 30 days, and those who didn’t have a regular healthcare provider were more likely to report using alcohol. A report released in 2020, which surveyed the habits of pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44, saw an increase in binge drinking from 2.5% in 2011 to 4% in 2018.
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California’s Alcoholism Achievements
California is the United States’ biggest alcohol market, causing 10 572 alcohol-related deaths and 304 472 years of life lost in 2013. Between 2011 and 2020, the state of California has managed to reduce the number of adults binge drinking from 18.6%, which was higher than the national average, to 18%.
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has taken a strong position against underage drinking, introducing a string of penalties to curb the problem of premature alcohol-rated deaths in young people and underage patrons, revoking liquor licenses, and issuing fines to the licensee and the underaged person.
The Department has also made licensees liable for sales to obviously and habitually intoxicated people, and any licensee that does so is guilty of a misdemeanor. Alcohol may not be sold after 2 am and licensees that do so are guilty of a misdemeanor.
US Alcohol Strategy for the Upcoming Years
Healthy People 2020 has been developed to reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths and the proportion of people engaging in binge drinking patterns. It seeks to educate people and reduce the number of people drinking excessively to decrease annual alcohol consumption. One of its objectives is to enforce the legal blood alcohol limit and reduce alcohol-induced driving fatalities.
In addition, policymakers have called for an increase in state taxes on beer, wines, and spirits, as well as increased liability for the sale of alcohol to intoxicated adults and underage patrons. Members of the public have been encouraged to comply with the guidelines of the Community Preventive Task Force to manage their drinking patterns.