According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (2001-2002) over 30% of Americans suffer from alcohol abuse. The National Drug and Alcohol Abuse Helpline has stated that over 15 million Americans are dependent on alcohol, with over 500,000 of these between the ages of 9 and 12. Alcohol related problems are costing the American economy over $100 million in health care each year, and this number is only rising. With statistics of this kind, one has to ask: is enough being done to raise awareness of alcohol abuse?
What is Alcohol Abuse?
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) define alcohol abuse as a “mental condition that doctors diagnose when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm.” There is a misconception in the U.S.A that alcohol abuse is confined to alcoholism. Whilst alcoholism is considered the most serious form of alcohol abuse, it is not the only form of alcohol abuse with binge drinking becoming a popular recreation amongst young people. The NIAAA define binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings the level of alcohol in a person’s blood to 0.08 grams or above.” This usually occurs when you consume more than 4 alcoholic drinks in the space of two hours. As the NIAAA recognizes you do not have to be physically dependent on alcohol to abuse it.
What Initiatives are in Place to Raise Awareness for Alcohol Abuse?
At both federal and state level there are initiatives in place that help to restrict alcohol consumption. The Alcohol Policy Information System indicates there are several important laws surrounding alcohol which all help to combat excessive drinking, particularly targeting the issue of underage drinking. However, despite these laws being in place, it is evident that alcohol abuse is still a significant problem in America with over 160,000 alcohol related deaths in the past four years. This once again raises the question as to whether enough is being done in the U.S.A to educate the population about alcohol abuse. As of yet, there are no federal policies surrounding the education of alcohol abuse in schools and colleges. Whilst individual schools and colleges may choose to educate their students about the effects of alcohol abuse, the fact that there is no federal policy in place leads one to question whether young people are learning all the facts about alcohol abuse.
The NIAAA currently have several initiatives in place to educate the population about the devastating effects of alcohol. These initiatives include: The Underage Drinking Research Initiative, College Drinking: Changing the Culture and Re-thinking Drinking. Whilst these initiatives appear to target all members of the population irrespective of age, one has to question whether people are aware of initiatives that are already in place. Whilst organizations such as the NIAA are an invaluable source of information about the effects of alcohol abuse, one has to question whether the content is accessible enough? Are children taught enough about the effects of alcohol abuse at school? Are there initiatives in place to combat and inform people about underage drinking? These are all important questions, leading us to question whether enough is being done to raise awareness for alcohol abuse.
It is clear whilst there are important policies and initiatives in place to combat and inform people about alcohol abuse, the statistics surrounding alcohol abuse prove more needs to be done to raise awareness about alcohol abuse. In order to help reduce the number of alcohol related deaths in the U.S.A, a combination of laws and initiatives need to be undertaken nationally so as to educate the population about the effects of alcohol abuse. Yes, a great deal has already been achieved to combat excessive alcohol consumption, however now, more focus needs to be placed on educating and informing the public about the effects of excessive alcohol abuse.
This post was written by Stanley Martinson. Stanley is concerned with issues of health and alcohol abuse. If you’re interested in reading more on this pertinent subject, click here!