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Alcohol Addiction and Abuse: America's #1 Problem is Fueled by Profit
In 1999 there were 11 million people in the U.S. whose drinking was considered heavy enough to be considered alcohol addiction or abuse. Today, there are more than 15 million. Despite the number of deaths and ruined lives, we’re obviously not addressing the problem. Why is that? As with many seemingly unsolvable problems, you have to look for the vested interest: who’s profiting from the problem? If you follow the money, it leads directly to alcohol addiction, not to solutions.
Alcohol Addiction and Abuse Fueled by Profit
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the alcohol industry spends billions in advertising every year. More than a billion is spent on ‘measured media’ — TV, radio, print — and three to four times that goes to sponsorship of cultural, musical and sporting events, Internet advertising, window and interior displays for bars, restaurants and retail stores, hats, t-shirts, watches and other give-away or sold items, product placement in movies and TV shows, catalogues and direct mail, promotions like sales, coupons and rebates, and promotion directed at wholesalers and retailers.
Add to that the hundreds of thousands of employees working in breweries and distilleries, the tens of thousands of bars that employ hundreds of thousands of people, the billions in taxes that governments collect from alcohol sales, and the taxes paid by every business that wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for alcohol, and you’ve got a lot of money going to a lot of people, industries, and government.
And every dollar is spent with one goal in mind — to make us drink.
The Effects of Alcohol on Americans
In the meantime, the effects on Americans are devastating: according to the CDC, alcohol abuse is now the leading risk factor for serious injury in the U.S. and the third leading cause of preventable death. In 2001, the latest year for which these statistics are available, there were over 75,000 alcohol-attributable deaths and 2.3 million years of potential life were lost — an average of 30 years per alcohol-attributable death. Alcohol is also taking its toll on our future: in addition to alarming statistics regarding alcohol consumption and abuse among our children and young adults, more than 40,000 children are born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) every year. FAS alone costs Americans between $1 million and $5 million per child — not including incarceration (FAS kids often wind up in the correctional system), lost productivity and the burden on families.
Health care costs are also out the roof: In 1992 the cost for the direct medical consequences of alcohol addiction and abuse was more than $148 million – in 1998 it was $184 million. Since then, the number of people suffering from alcohol addiction and abuse has increased by about 25 percent so we can safely assume that the medical consequence healthcare costs have done at least the same – $230 million. Overall healthcare costs related to alcohol addiction are over $100 billion — which includes the relatively meager amount spent on alcohol detox and rehab.
These figures represent just a fraction of the total cost of alcohol addiction and abuse — all told, it’s over $300 billion a year.
Of course, those are just numbers — what matters to the individual is how it affects their daily lives: the accidents, the rapes, the murders, the suicides, the abused children, the fires, the lost careers, the lost lives, the broken marriages, the broken families, and the broken people.
Yes, a lot of people make a lot of money from alcohol addiction and abuse, but what does the future hold for a society that values profit more than people? If we’re not going to stop manufacturing and selling alcohol, the least we can do is invest those profits into alcohol detox and rehab.
NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted © material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C.
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