April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which means it’s time to share information on the risks and dangers of alcohol use, and also keep an eye on trends that may be concerning. Moreover, in the current social climate affected by COVID-19, it appears that significant amounts of Americans are imbibing more alcohol more often.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) began organizing the public health program Alcohol Awareness Month to improve outreach and education regarding the risks and problems related to alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
The program was established in April 1987 to target college-aged students who might be drinking excessively due to their newfound freedom. It has since become a country-wide movement to bring more attention to the causes and consequences of alcohol abuse and how to help individuals, families, and communities deal with drinking issues.
The Program’s Importance
A significant part of the purpose of Alcohol Awareness Month is to shine a light on the stigma that still surrounds alcoholism and substance abuse in general. Denial is a common characteristic among persons struggling with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, and sometimes even those close to them. They tend to minimize the amount of alcohol they drink, the duration of their drinking problem, the adverse effects it has had on their life, or overestimate their ability to manage their drinking or to abstain entirely.
For this reason and others, Alcohol Awareness Month provides public health institutions and community and treatment centers with an initiative that can help them expand their efforts and reach out to individuals who may not fully appreciate the risks and potential impact of unhealthy alcohol use. These organizations launch campaigns on social and traditional media during April to bring attention to the causes and effects of alcohol abuse and how to talk to a loved one about a potential drinking problem, and how to locate treatment options.
Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the U.S.
Unfortunately, alcohol abuse risks and their detrimental effects go far beyond collegiate young adults getting intoxicated at bars and parties. According to NSDUH, approximately 14.4 million Americans age 18+ had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2018.
Across the U.S., more than 26 percent of persons age 18 and older reported engaging in binge drinking in the past month, which is equal to more than four drinks for women and five drinks for men in about two hours. Furthermore, 6.6 percent reported engaging in heavy alcohol consumption, which is defined roughly as binge drinking on five or more days during the past month.
Each year, an estimated 88,000 individuals die from alcohol-related causes, and in 2014 alcohol-impaired driving deaths accounted for 31 percent of overall driving fatalities, or nearly 10,000 deaths. Unfortunately, this loss of life could have been prevented, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
Problematic alcohol consumption has taken a toll on our state and national economies. Costs related to drinking-related reached an estimated $249 billion in the United States in 2010, with binge drinking accounting for about 75 percent of this economic burden. And $2 of every $5 was paid out by federal, state, and local governments, meaning all Americans are paying for heavy alcohol use—regardless of whether they are consuming alcohol or not.
These numbers suggest that problematic alcohol use continues to be a drain to our society, and awareness about alcohol abuse and addiction and its devastating effects on our lives is necessary to protect both our loved ones and ourselves.
Increasing Online Alcohol Purchases
The Harris Poll, which is responsible for the referenced data collection, is conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc., and “…tap[s] into a representative sample of Americans of all ages, genders, income and ethnic backgrounds. From sports to health, politics to the economy, the Harris Poll reflects Americans’ opinions on a wide range of topics…”
Also, the poll found that an increasing number of people are buying alcohol online. That is, about 8% of adults report buying at least some alcohol online in the last six months. For regular buyers who fell into this category, wine was the most popular purchase (42%) followed by liquor (35%) and beer (29%).
The survey also revealed that those who purchase online are likely to earn more and maintain full-time employment than in-store-only buyers. They are also more likely to be young, male, and married.
Regarding their latest alcohol purchase online, 48% said they intended to consume their product within a week, and 25% intended to begin consuming the product on the day of receipt. For those who purchase online about half (50%) pick up the purchased product at a store, and 41% have it delivered within hours. Just over one-third stated the product will be delivered in 1-2 days.
Many online buyers of alcohol (especially wine) predict that they will purchase an increased amount of alcohol in the upcoming year, and more than 1 in 10 in-store only buyers state they are going to experiment with purchasing alcohol online in the next year.
Campaigns on College Campuses
Many campaigns often include advertising and outreach especially in communities particularly vulnerable to excessive alcohol consumption, such as college campuses. Indeed, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 52.5 percent of full-time college students aged 18-22 reported consuming alcohol in the past month, compared with just 44 percent of non-collegiate individuals of the same age.
Also, in 2019, NSDUH found that 33.0 percent of full-time college students aged 18-22 reported binge drinking in the previous month, compared with just under 28 percent of other persons of the same age.
Programs such as Alcohol Awareness Month exist to ensure that families and communities have the resources, information, and resources available to control the alcohol epidemic. A recent poll has found that more than two-thirds (68%) of Americans age 21+ are “regular buyers of alcohol.” This means that nearly 7 in 10 Americans are buying alcohol for themselves or someone else, many times in a given year. The poll took place between November 9-11, 2016.
Wine Is an Increasingly Problematic for 30-Somethings
According to a recent Harris Poll, Millennials consumed more than one-third (36 percent) of wine purchased in 2015 or nearly 160 million cases. This number was the highest for any generation – by far. The next group, Baby Boomers, consumed 114 million cases, and Gen Xers consumed just 74.5 million.
Also, Millennials drink more than three glasses of wine per occasion. Gen Xers drink 2-4 glasses, and Baby Boomers, less than two. Part of this trend reflects a move from liquor to wine as the most popular at-home drink, which could be considered a more-or-less harm-reductive switch. However, for those who forgo beer for wine, keep in mind that wine alcohol content is 2-3 times that of beer.
Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction
We at Just Believe Recovery understand how overwhelming it can be to seek help for addiction. We offer comprehensive programs that include essential vital for the process of recovery, including behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, art therapy, and much, much more. We are here to help you navigate the recovery process and begin living the healthy and fulfilling life you deserve!