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Alcohol Misuse: Pre-pandemic and Now

Alcohol misuse in the United States has been a challenge even before the pandemic. However, life “in the time of COVID” has exacerbated the problem. Alcohol is legal and readily available. Beer, wine, and hard liquor are socially acceptable substances to consume, despite the fact that, if misused, could be dangerous. Alcoholic beverages can be found at job-related happy hours, convenience stores, social gatherings at a friend’s home, sporting events, and restaurants. Those who do not struggle with an addiction to the substance may overlook it as an obstacle to work through as those battling an alcohol use disorder are forced to face. So what does alcohol misuse look like now versus what it looked like prior to March of 2020?

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a nationwide leader in addiction treatment. With facilities across the country, we have an opportunity to help a lot of people reach long-term sobriety. We provide medical detox and treatment care all within a supportive and compassionate environment with licensed physicians. If you’re struggling with an alcohol use disorder, please reach out for the help that you need today.

 

Evolution of Alcohol Misuse

Consuming alcohol in excess was definitely a pastime of individuals pre-pandemic. So, COVID is not solely responsible for causing alcohol use disorder, although alcohol use has risen over the last two years since the airborne virus was first reported in the U.S.

Alcohol use statistics pre-pandemic:

  • 6.8% of individuals 18 years of age and older participated in heavy alcohol use in 2019.Passed out at bar due alcohol misuse. A glass of alcohol sits in foreground.
  • 25.8% of individuals 18 years of age and older reported binge drinking within the past month in 2019.
  • 5.2 million women and 8.9 million men had an alcohol use disorder in 2019, according to the National Survey on Drug use and Health.
  • Roughly 7.9% of adults with an alcohol use disorder within the past year received treatment for their disorder, according to a 2018 National Survey on Drug use and Health.
  • Roughly 414,000 adolescents (between the ages of 12-17) struggled with an alcohol use disorder, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug use and Health.

These numbers indicate that the two years before COVID was first reported in the U.S., that there was a struggle that some were experiencing with alcohol misuse.

But where do we find ourselves during the pandemic?

First of all, alcohol-related deaths, inclusive of accidents and liver disease, have risen from 78,927 in 2019 to 99,017 in 2020, according to a New York Times article. Alcohol-related deaths amongst adults under 65 (74,408 Americans between the ages of 16-64) was greater than the deaths from COVID (74,075 Americans) within this same age group in 2020. According to a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, Katherine Keyes said, “Drinking has been going  up for 10 or 15 years among adults, and the trend accelerated in 2020, as some of the motivations to drink changed…” She references these motivations as increases in drinking due to both boredom and stress.

What can we conclude from these statistics? That we are facing a challenge. That there has been an increase in alcohol misuse. Other than relying on the support of compassionate family and friends, the solution is to seek professional treatment and help.

If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol, you’re not alone. AAC is here to help you to achieve long-term recovery and to live a productive and healthy life . Please reach out for the help that you need today.

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