Taking a Second Look at Alcohol Consumption in US

Drinking has long been a major part of American culture playing an important part in many people’s everyday life. One could say it is impossible to attend a sports game, wedding, or any other major event without encountering alcoholic beverages and individuals who are engaged in drinking. Opportunities to drink actually face us in almost every corner, from liquor stores to establishments that offer a local happy hour with specials on alcoholic drinks, discounted menu items, and enticing events. Happy hours especially, attracting mostly corporate employees have been known to be the culprit for many individual’s frequent drinking sessions and even driving under the influence. It’s worth mentioning that frequent drinking sessions are the number one common behavior of those who engage in alcohol abuse and those struggling with addiction.

Statistics indicate that the incidences related to drinking issues are on the rise in the US. The research community says that the damage is far understated and they believe that individuals who have as few as two or three drinks a day have reported some occasional problems such as drinking more than they intended to, inability to cut down, or spend less of their time thinking about drinking.

According to the CDC, deaths from alcohol hit a 35-year high in 2014 at 30,700, and that was not counting deaths from accidents and homicides. We are talking about more than the number of deaths from heroin and prescription opioid painkillers combined.

The top 10 percent of Americans who drink—some 24 million people—consume an average of 61 drinks a week. The next 10 percent have an average of 22 drinks a week.

The Biological Causes of Alcoholism: Where Alcohol Problem Starts

While drugs like heroin and marijuana influence dedicated systems of the brain, alcohol acts as both a stimulant and a depressant, with effects that spread over several brain sectors. Like Valium and Xanax, it binds to the receptors of a neurotransmitter called GABA which makes the individual relaxed. But through a biochemical reaction, it also jacks up the release of dopamine in the brain’s pleasure center giving people a feeling of euphoria. Over time, a drinker’s brain adapts to the chemical assault by desensitizing itself. So, to maintain the feel-good effects the individual needs to drink more. In research conducted by Yale and Columbia University, the brain scan of male drinkers revealed significantly greater dopamine release than those of women. It turns out that men are twice as likely as women to have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). With the advancement in research, a better understanding of the biological causes of alcoholism and its neurobiological differences, the treatment professionals are better equipped to develop and implement treatment practices.

In addition, the advancements in the science of addiction are bringing changes in society’s perceptions replacing stigma and shame with a new understanding that addiction is a treatable disease much like any other medical disease and one which demands a broad but focused, intense and sustained public health solution.

Are you uncomfortable with your drinking habits or a loved one’s pattern of drinking? If so, then treatment can help. Thinking about a drinking problem usually precedes doing something about it; the bottom line is that action is what creates the desired change.

To explore addiction treatment for an alcohol problem at Florida Center for Recovery, please contact us at (800) 851-3291. We are accredited and certified by the Joint Commission, which sets the standard for delivery of safe and effective care of the highest quality and value for our clients.

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Florida Center for Recovery
Clinical Excellence & Compassionate Care in a Healing Environment
Providing Addiction & Mental Health Treatment Since 2002