Every year, more money is spent promoting the use of alcohol than any other product. With all the paraphernalia of elaborate and creative marketing, the most basic, yet important fact about alcohol is often overlooked -- alcohol is a drug. In fact, it is the most commonly used and widely abused psychoactive drug in the world.
Research has shown that alcohol interacts with the body’s systems in predictable ways to lead to physiological addiction. It is difficult for many to accept the fact that alcoholism is a disease that too a chronic, progressive and fatal disease, if not treated.
According to data furnished by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, each year alcohol abuse costs the United States an estimated 185 billion dollars. However, only 14 percent of this total amount that translates to 26 billion dollars comes from direct medical costs or treating alcoholics. An enormous amount of 88 billion dollars is owed to lost productivity, which is a conjugated consequence of thin attendance at work places on Mondays, thanks to the hangovers and also alcohol related diseases. Looking at these statistics, researchers recommend counseling for not only alcoholics but also people who simply drink too much.
There are regional differences in alcohol spending levels. Households in the South spend about 25 percent less than the national average, those in the Northeast spend 22 percent more than the average, those in the Midwest spend 9 percent above, and those in the West spend 12 percent above the national average. However, the amount spent does not equate with quantity of absolute alcohol consumed as the alcohol purchased in restaurant or other licensed establishments tends to cost more per ounce of alcohol. Studies reveal that married couples with adult children and couples with no children spend about 30% more than the national household average. 61 percent of all money spent on alcoholic beverages stands for alcohol consumed at home. Abstention in the US is inversely associated with social status; the lower the social class, the higher the abstention factor.
An alcohol dependent individual is one who drinks despite any health condition and thereafter becomes vulnerable to fights and unprotected sex. Alcohol is a worthless drug that affects the minutest cell in the human body. Excessive drinking can lead to diabetes and several kinds of cancer. Half of the road accidents can also be accredited to alcohol. The trauma centers are over crowded with people, who have hurt themselves after drinking. Drunk driving only accounts for 6 billion dollars worth of motor vehicle accidents, but it causes a third of car crash deaths resulting in the loss of 13,000 lives per year. The professions where people drink the most include construction, agriculture and manufacturing; incidentally all these fields involve a lot of dangerous and heavy machinery. The toll from all the psychiatric effects, injuries and other alcohol related problems comes to 85,000 deaths a year.
Alcohol is a 100 billion dollars business in America, but it costs much more than that to repair the damages of alcohol abuse. Some experts estimate that cost at more than 175 billion dollars this year, but surely it still does not include a lot of hidden costs. Nearly 17 million Americans have a serious problem with alcohol, but only 3 million ever seek out any kind of help. Of those 17 million problem drinkers, 8 million are alcoholics. The good news is that alcohol consumption has been declining for decades in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that the per capita consumption of alcohol by Americans age 14 and older has dropped over time. Seems like the coming generation might overpower the abuse!
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