88,000 deaths per year, responsible for 1 in 10 deaths.
Linked to 40% of violent crimes.
4.6 million emergency room visits per year.
What drug could possibly be responsible for all of this damage? Heroin? No. Deaths from heroin are in the 10,000 people per year range. Meth? Just shy of 20,000 deaths per year.
Leading Cause of Death
Alcohol use contributes to all of this destruction. It is second only to tobacco use in deaths per year in the US. Despite the fact that the CDC has warned that excessive consumption of alcohol “is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the US,” we do not hear a call to arms to ban or restrict it and win the war on alcohol. According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use costs the United States about $249 billion annually.
Culture is King
Alcohol is celebrated in our culture. It is a constant companion and friend to many. In many ways we glamorize it – our young children are inundated with advertisements that make it appear as a cool and fun thing to do, without any mention of the hidden dangers that lurk within the bottle. The risks are real. Alcohol has been linked to nausea, vomiting, headaches, fetal defects in pregnant women, diabetes, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, dementia and depression. It actually alters and changes your brain chemistry. Alcohol consumption directly contributes to domestic abuse, sexual assaults and other violent crimes. So why haven’t we started a war on alcohol?
With nearly nearly two-thirds of Americans admitting to using alcohol — US policymakers are reluctant to impose any restriction or taxes on it since it is such a boon to the economy. Alcohol sales number in the hundreds of billions per year.
Getting wasted is a rite of passage for many twentysomethings. Drinking games abound. Tailgating is an American Institution. Beer companies use cute talking animals in their advertisements so that even a young child can recognize their brand. We as a nation have glorified alcohol rather than vilifying it as we do with most other deadly drugs. The truth is – there is nothing pretty about alcohol and at its root it is a drug – just like cocaine, meth or heroin. If advertisements showed what alcohol use really looked like the media wouldn’t be so quick to glamorize it. It’s hard to sell alcohol related manslaughter or pancreatitis.
War on Alcohol
A change is clearly in order with stricter restrictions and guidelines. With alcohol related driving accidents costing us over $59 billion yearly it does seem logical to raise the price of alcohol in order to offset the expense. Drug policy experts would like to see states have more control over alcohol sales and policies with higher taxes and levies in place. These measures have been shown to be effective at reducing use. While we might not see a war on alcohol hitting the news waves anytime soon we can educate ourselves and our youth on the truth behind it so we can all make educated choices.