Knife After Death

Does America Have A Drinking Problem? A Pathologist’s Take

Does America have a drinking problem? As a pathologist, it’s not necessarily my place to tell people what to do with their lives. My profession delves into facts and science. What I can say, is that there has noticeably been a major uptick in alcohol-related deaths within my practice since 2020.

There could be many reasons related to this, but one major impact has been the pandemic, easy access to alcohol, and human nature not taking care of themselves.

Alcohol is a drug and it can be abused. It is, in fact, the most widely used drug in the world. The abuse of alcohol consumption causes about 80-90% of all cirrhosis cases and 50-70% of deaths due to liver disease worldwide (World Health Organization). People with alcohol addiction also suffer from many other health problems such as malnutrition, urticaria, gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, and pancreatitis. Alcoholism accounts for 20% of all suicides and 10-20% of violent crimes like child abuse or rape (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence).

In America alone, there were an estimated 88,000 deaths related to excessive drinking in 2016 which equates to 3/10ths of 1% of the population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Major increase in deaths by excessive alcohol consumption (TikTok transcript)

“Is there a cause of death that you’ve seen more of lately than in the past that has surprised you?” Yes! This year in 2021 the rate of alcohol-related deaths is off the charts. That would be both chronic alcoholism and acute alcohol intoxication.

Chronic alcoholism deaths are going to be ones related to liver failure related to cirrhosis. Withdrawal seizures, pancreatitis, and things of that nature.

Does America have a drinking problem

Then acute alcohol intoxication is going to be where someone literally drinks themselves to death either purposely or accidentally. They died because the blood alcohol concentration goes over 0.2, 0.3, 0.4 even 0.5 (Numbers are “Percent Blood Alcohol Concentration or %BAC). These alcohol related deaths are off the charts.

So we continue to ask, does America have a drinking problem?

Alcohol Use Kills More People Than Drug Overdoses

Drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30% in 2020 to 93,000, according to preliminary released in July by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

But an estimated 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 

It’s important to recognize the scope of America’s alcohol dependence and help those with alcohol use disorder. Our nation’s well-being is at stake.

Recent Statistics Regarding Alcohol Misuse

In the United States, alcohol is a leading cause of preventable death. Each year, excessive alcohol use contributes to 88,000 deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions. 30% of driving fatalities involved a driver with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

These are just some sobering statistics about America’s drinking problem. There is still much work to be done in order to address this issue. But with concerted effort and support, we can make progress.

Why Is America Obsessed With Alcohol?

There are many reasons why America is obsessed with alcohol. Some of these reasons include the following:

  • Alcohol is widely available and socially acceptable.
  • Alcohol is often used as a way to relax and socialize.
  • Alcohol is often used to cope with stress and anxiety.
  • Alcohol addiction is often glamorized in the media.
Budweiser's America Beer Campaign
Budweiser’s America Beer Campaign

These are just a few of the reasons why America has a drinking problem. There are many complex factors at play here, and it will take a concerted effort from everyone to address this issue. But with support, we can make progress.

The Difference Between Heavy Drinking, Problem Drinking & Alcoholism

Heavy drinking is typically defined as having more than two drinks per day for men or more than one drink per day for women. Problem drinking is typically defined as a pattern of drinking that results in negative consequences such as drunk driving, job loss, or problems with family or friends.

Alcoholism is a chronic disease marked by drinking that’s stronger than what’s considered normal, and continuing to drink despite it causing health and social problems. Alcohol abuse is categorized as abnormal drinking behavior that does not fit the diagnosis for alcoholism. Abnormal drinking includes binge drinking or heavy alcohol use, most days of the week or longer, and continued use despite it causing issues with health, work, school, or home life.

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

There are many treatment options for alcoholism, and the best one for you will depend on your individual situation. Some common treatments include counseling, therapy, medication, and support groups.

Counseling and therapy can help you understand the root causes of your drinking and how to change your behavior. Medication can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, while support groups can provide emotional support and accountability.

It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible, as alcohol addiction can be very dangerous and lead to serious health problems. With the right treatment, you can overcome alcoholism and live a healthy, happy life.