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Since April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s best to take advantage of this opportunity to look into some facts surrounding alcohol in present day American society. Alcohol is typically the life the of the party but with more and more statistics showing an alarming increase in alcohol-dependency among adults, some argue we should start saying no, more often.

Alcohol Abuse is On The Rise

Alcohol has been established as the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people — or 1 in every 12 adults — suffers from alcohol abuse or dependence, and millions more who partake in risky behavior that carries the potential to developing alcohol problems in the future. Every day, nearly 29 people die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes in the United States — that’s one person every 50 minutes in 2016.

Why Is Alcohol Dependency Skyrocketing?

This is up for much debate and several people have their own opinions as to the reasons why. In my opinion, they all have similar commonalities among them & underlying facts that are the same: High-risk drinking is rising. We would typically assume that the majority of high-risk drinking behavior occurs amongst college-aged adults from 18–14 (I know I did) but this is actually not the case.

Of the 29.9% increase in high-risk drinking behavior, 65.2% of that population was 65 years of age and up! Why? This is especially where much of the speculation takes place. But as I see it, this highlights a pretty important societal issue we should be looking at. Some would say it is due to the abundance of spare time this age group newly acquires, but that doesn’t account for the “high-risk” drinking behavior that we are seeing here. My fear is that this may be highlighting an important issue we should be addressing that has to do with the elderly in our communities. Are we taking care of them? Are we valuing their years of contribution or are we letting them drown themselves in their sorrows after being used & abused by the system? If we look at the way the elderly is treated among other cultures, its no surprise that binge-drinking is not among many of their daily activities.

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In Spain, 7.8% of the countries population over 60 years of age were “heavy drinkers.” Japan, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada are among the other countries that these similar trends among their populations. Without getting political here, it is worth to note that all of these countries that have low rates for high-risk drinking behavior also have laws protecting the elderly from poverty and lack of quality of life. It would be interesting to find whether there is a correlation between the two.

Socioeconomic factors

35.2% of the population affected by the rise in high-risk drinking are those below $19,999 annual income. Some scientists believe that individuals living under the poverty line are more susceptible to depending on drugs or alcohol to deal with the stresses of their work and personal life. However, considering other income groups also experiences stresses throughout their lives, this increase may have more to do with the types of coping mechanisms that are at work.

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Social Norms

Binge-drinking amongst people ages 18–24 has also seen a spike in the past decade. The college drinking culture is more prevalent than ever, with no signs of changing anytime soon. Schools have attempted to intervene by implementing alcohol education programs into their admissions requirements and promote responsible drinking, or even no drinking, on campus. It’s a step in the right direction but the change will also need to come from within the college community and those around it.

How to Know If You Have An Alcohol-Dependency

As drug and alcohol dependence has risen, it’s important to know what alcohol-dependent behavior looks like so you’re able to identify the signs within yourself and among loved-ones that may find themselves falling into these dangerous habits.

Signs & Symptoms of alcohol dependence include:

  • Drinking more alcohol to alleviate withdrawal symptoms
  • Often begin drinking upon waking up
  • Strong & sudden cravings for alcohol
  • Feeling anxious to get alcohol if you want it & don’t have it
  • Often drinking while at work or school Experiencing frequent “blackouts”

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Alcohol & Vehicle Deaths

Alcoholism is a problem on its own, but when you put a drunk person behind the wheel the results can be catastrophic. In 2017 alone there were an estimated 40,100 motor vehicle deaths (NSC) According to NHTSA, 37,461 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2016 — up 1.7 percent from 10,320 in 2015. In 2016 alcohol-impaired crash fatalities accounted for 28% of all crash fatalities in the U.S. Drunk Driving Accidents Being involved in an accident where either driver is impaired or under the influence of alcohol is devastating for all parties involved.

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After the shock of a crash subsides, the feelings of anger and resentment for a preventable accident can be unbearable for everyone and can make recovery that much harder to accept. If you’ve been in an accident and one of the drivers involved was impaired, it’s incredibly important you speak with a good, trusted and reputable car accident attorney for advice about your case. They will be able to guide you through what to seek compensation for, evaluating what damages you’re entitled to compensation for, and handle the whole litigation process while you focus on your recovery.