Alcohol consumption is a popular pastime in the United States. For many people, this will be something they only do occasionally and could best be described as social drinking. Unfortunately, binge drinking is also popular among different sections of society. This can lead to a great deal of harm for the individual and for society. There are also millions of people in the US who suffer from alcoholism. In this situation, alcohol consumption is destroying their lives as well as the lives of people who depend on the alcoholic. There are a variety of options available for those who are willing to escape their addiction to alcohol.
There are believed to be 17.6 million adults in the United States could be described as having an alcohol problem. More than half the population of the US could be described as regular drinkers. Every year, 23,199 people die because of alcohol use. This figure does not include those deaths caused by homicide linked to inebriation. Over 14,000 people die each year due to alcoholic liver disease.
The way that people in a society consume alcohol can be greatly affected by culture. The United States is made up of people from many different cultural backgrounds, but there is a general acceptance of social drinking. There was a complete ban on alcohol between 1920 and 1932, but prohibition turned out to be an unpopular experiment. The main criticism was that it penalized social drinkers as well as problem drinkers. It also helped to strengthen criminal organization because they could make a great deal of money selling black market beverages. Moderation and abstinence continued to be praised in the US, but there is a high degree of tolerance for alcohol inebriation.
Binge drinking is a common pattern of alcohol consumption in the United States. This refers to consuming an excessive amount of alcohol within a short period of time. A common benchmark is more than five drinks in a period of less than two hours. It is particularly popular form of drinking with college students. When people binge drink, they are deliberately attempting to experience the effects of intoxication. This is dangerous because:
* When people allow their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) climb too high it puts them at risk of developing alcohol poisoning. There are about 1,400 deaths each year related to alcohol poisoning.
* When people are inebriated, they are far more likely to be involved in accidents. Those who binge drink are more likely to drive their car while under the influence.
* When people consume alcohol in large quantities, they risk damaging almost every organ in their body. It is not necessary for people to binge drink for long before they develop the early stage of alcoholic liver disease.
* This style of drinking increases the likelihood that people will commit crimes or become victims of crime.
* When people consume too much alcohol in a short period of time they risk experiencing a type of amnesia known as a blackout. The individual will then be in the vulnerable position of not knowing what happened to them the night before.
* People who engage in this type of behavior have an increased risk of committing suicide. Binge drinking is even considered a predictor or teen suicide.
* This is the style of drinking that is most likely to lead to alcoholism. When people become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol it can completely destroy their life. It can also bring a great deal of suffering to the lives of their family and friends.
* Binge drinking leads to hangovers. This means that people will not be able to perform well the next day at work or in college. If people are seen to have too many hangovers, it will damage their career.
In the United States, anyone under 21 who consumes alcohol is considered underage and breaking the law. It is believed that 11 percent of all consumption of alcohol in the US is done by young people aged between 11 and 20. It is also claimed that 90 percent of the alcohol consumption by this population is in the form of binge drinking. In addition to this, 37 percent of 8th graders and 72 percent of 12th graders will at least have tried alcohol.
These are some of the consequences of underage drinking:
* It can lead to experimentation with hard drugs.
* The younger an individual is when they begin drinking, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic.
* Underage drinkers are more likely to commit suicide.
* It can have a detrimental impact on their brain development.
* It can make a person more likely to commit or be a victim of sexual assault.
* Underage drinkers are at risk of committing or becoming a victim of violence.
* They will perform less well in school, and this will have an impact on their future.
* Unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are linked to underage drinking.
* Young people will miss out on much of the fun of their teenage years.
There are many resources available for people dealing with alcohol problems in the US including:
* The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence offer a 24 hour hotline where people can get advice and information. The contact number for NCADD is 1-800-622-2255
* Alcoholics Anonymous has helped many people escape their addiction. Their program is called the 12 Steps, and it provides people with the tools they need to build a good life away from addiction. AA meetings are available across the US. Most towns have several meetings to choose from.
* There are also alternatives to AA such as Rational Recovery and SMART Recovery. These groups may be a suitable alternative for those who object to the spiritual aspects of the 12 Steps.
* There are addiction rehabs throughout the United States. These in-treatment facilities offer a variety of programs that can help people build a good foundation in sobriety. It is important that people investigate the type of program offered so that they can make the best choice.
* Those who are unable to take time off work or are unable to afford in-patient treatment can attend an out-patient program. This can include much of what is on offer in rehab, but the individual will go home to their own bed at night.
* Many Americans are now looking abroad for addiction treatment. This can not only work out much cheaper, but they may benefit from the change of location.