Why does society promote alcohol use?
Dr. John L. Bledsoe
Why is there an increase in alcohol abuse? Some people drink to reduce stress. Others drink because they like the feeling. Another group drinks to escape problems and some drink to fit in. A large number become alcohol dependent.
I believe there are other reasons for alcohol abuse. First, it has become the accepted social lubricant. Secondly, the alcohol industry promotes alcohol use as the way to have fun. Ads tell us to drink responsibly, but never define responsible drinking. Thirdly, the average individual doesn’t know what responsible drinking is.
When asked this question most indicate responsible drinking is not becoming intoxicated. Others say responsible drinking is not driving drunk. The latest research indicates responsible drinking for females is never more than two standard drinks a day. Responsible drinking for males is never more than three drinks a day ( A standard drink is .6 ounces of alcohol). A 12 ounce beer with 5% alcohol contains .6 ounce of pure alcohol.
While society promotes the use of alcohol, other countries are clamping down on driving under the influence. For example, a DUI in Russia, Sweden and Norway is .02. The BAC for DUI in Poland is .03. The BAC for DUI in France, Finland, Germany, Italy, South Africa and England is .05. The US is behind when it comes to addressing the alcohol problem. However, most authorities say .05 BAC will be DUI in most states in the near future.
Why does Russia, Sweden and Norway consider persons with a .02 BAC impaired. Why? Because they are. The first thing impaired by alcohol is the brain. Even though an individual can pass a sobriety test they are mentally impaired.
When you consider the following statistics, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know we have a serious alcohol abuse problem. Most authorities say one out of five in the US has an alcohol abuse problem. Fifty percent of ER visits are related to alcohol abuse. Seventy percent of Child abuse cases involve alcohol. Fifty- two percent of rapes, eighty- six percent of homicides, forty percent of traffic deaths and seventy- five percent of domestic assaults involve alcohol. Approximately, 50 million struggle with alcohol abuse.
Excessive alcohol use, including underage and binge drinking lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer. Binge drinking is five or more drinks on an occasion for men and four or more drinks on an occasion for women. Alcohol abuse is the fourth cause of death in the US. Alcohol abuse kills approximately 88,000 people in the United States each year.
Alcohol abuse cost the United States $ 249 billion in 2010 ( About $ 2.05 per drink). 77 percent of these costs were due to binge drinking. A CDC study indicates it is also a drain on the economy. If alcohol abuse is a problem, and it is, why doesn’t society educate and warn the public about the dangers of alcohol abuse?
What is the answer to this growing problem? 1. Educate the public on the effects of alcohol on the brain and body. 2. Increase tax on alcohol to defray expenses caused by alcohol abuse. 3. Decrease availability by limiting the number and types of businesses that sell alcohol. 4. Practice temperance. John L Bledsoe, PhD, DMin Co- Occurring Disorders Professional