With so much attention being put on America's opioid crisis, another serious substance abuse issue is going unnoticed. And this one's 100 percent legal.
According to a recent study, alcoholism amongst American adults has increased by 49 percent from 2002 to 2012. Their results indicate that about 12.7 percent of Americans, or about one out of every eight people, would be considered an alcoholic. The study used a clinical definition of alcoholism, which they described as, "High-risk drinking demanded 5 drinks per occasion for men (4 for women) at least weekly, with a standard drink defined as 14 g of ethanol, and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) were defined by the DSM-IV." The study also found that women and African-Americans saw more than 90 percent increases in alcohol use disorders.
Alcohol abuse is linked to a number of other medical problems, including cancer, cardiac disease and strokes. The authors of the study say that the cost of society every year for alcohol-related problems is approximately $250 billion. They also said they expect those costs to increase because it can take a few years before the damage done by increased alcohol use to be seen.
The study did propose a solution to help lower these numbers. Their data showed that when freshmen college students were exposed to the risks of heavy drinking, their alcohol use was lower than those who were not. They propose that legislators in Washington include alcohol abuse education into their budgets going forward.
Of course, alcohol is one hundred percent legal, while marijuana, which is not addictive and isn't nearly as harmful to people's health (in fact, it has health benefits), is illegal. Almost every argument used against legalizing marijuana can be used against alcohol.
Maybe if more studies like this come out, people will begin realizing that as well.