If there was ever a time for a psychedelic revolution, it’d be now.
“researchers found increases across the board. The percent of people who’d consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months rose by 11.2 percent, especially among women, minorities, adults over the age of 65, and people with lower education levels and low incomes. That in and of itself isn’t worrisome, but the prevalence of high-risk drinking—those four or five drinks a day, at least once a week—also rose by nearly 30 percent in that time, but primarily among the same groups. Problem drinking increased from 9.7 percent to 12.6 percent of the population, representing a rise from 20.2 million to 29.6 million Americans.
Perhaps most worrisome of all, the estimated prevalence of people with alcohol use disorder rose by 49.4 percent, from 8.5 to 12.7 percent of the population, representing 17.6 million and 29.9 million Americans, respectively. That means an estimated one in eight Americans fit the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism. Rates of AUDs rose even higher in certain subgroups: Women saw an 83.7 percent increase in AUDs, African Americans had a 92.8 percent increase, people with only high school educations saw a 57.8 percent increase, and people with incomes less than $20,000 had a 65.9 percent increase.
So not only are more people drinking, but it seems casual drinkers are also becoming problem drinkers at much higher rates. The researchers have a few ideas as to why drinking might be increasing. “Drinking norms and values have become more permissive among women, along with increases in educational and occupational opportunities and rising numbers of women in the workforce, all of which may have contributed to increased high-risk drinking and AUD in women during the past decade,” they write, compounded by the stress of pursuing a career and raising a family. The researchers note that stress and demoralization caused by increased income inequality after the 2008 recession may have driven up drinking rates among minorities.
Together, these statistics paint a bleak picture. The increases, the researchers wrote, “constitute a public health crisis that may have been overshadowed by increases in much less prevalent substance use (marijuana, opiates and heroin) during the same period.” Excessive alcohol use kills more than twice as many people every year than those who die from prescription opioids and heroin—from 2006 to 2010, there were 88,000 deaths annually related to alcohol versus 33,000 opioid overdose deaths in 2015. Despite the big increases in alcohol misuse, treatment rates for alcohol use disorders remain low, at less than 10 percent. The authors say high-risk drinking and AUD are still stigmatized.
Higher drinking rates overall and increases in problem drinking foreshadow increases in chronic health conditions, they say, especially among those demographic groups. To say nothing of the terrible emotional cost for the people struggling with alcohol misuse, these health problems will affect the healthcare costs of the entire nation: in 2010, alcohol-related problems cost society an estimated $250 billion. Some of the biggest increases in problem drinking were among groups that may not have sufficient medical coverage, according to an editorial published in conjunction with the study penned by Marc A. Schuckit, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.
We’re seeing some of the effects already, the study authors note—rates of many of the conditions associated with problem drinking, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and cirrhosis, had previously decreased but had either become more prevalent or their decreases started to plateau during the study’s time frame. So, too, have fatal alcohol-related car accidents and injury-related emergency room visits increased. The link between the rise in alcohol use and the increase in obesity rates also warrants further investigation, the researchers write.”
I came so very close to getting sucked into this black hole vortex. It’s funny how most of the criticism of my first book involved the drinking and sex. Sort of blew my mind that this was what people took issue with, they were cool with the talking to aliens thing. The book’s about how I got into sorcery in my late 20’s, the heaving drinking was me trying to normalize my situation. It’s not like drinking constantly was my idea, our culture IS alcohol culture. I’m a musician. My pursuit of the Occult helped pull me out of that lifestyle, and it wasn’t easy at all. Just in the last week I was confronting the fact that I very well might have some permanent health issues due to all my years partaking in this wonderful escapist hobby of ours. There’s some dark shit lurking behind the scenes of the drug trade and booze ain’t the only legal drug by coincidence. If you wanna banish the daemons from our culture, this is a pretty good place to start.