Alcohol Consumption on the Rise in the USPat Fontana
After a brief decline in the 1980s and 1990s, alcohol consumption is on the rise in the US once more. Many factors have contributed to this increase, including the fact that American drinking patterns are considerably different than those in other parts of the world.
The US has a history of being concerned about its citizens’ drinking habits. Americans tend to drink more and for different reasons than people in other countries. For example, Italy, known for its commonly accepted practice of drinking wine, has some of the lowest rates of alcoholism in the world.
According to an article recently published in The Atlantic, Italians drink mostly wine and beer, usually over meals shared with other people. When they do consume liquor, it is usually in small quantities either immediately before or after their meal. Alcohol is to be enjoyed as part of the meal and drinking just to get drunk is discouraged, as is the concept of drinking alone.
Preference for Drinking Alone
The idea of drinking alone has taken root in America, even before the pandemic forced so many people into isolation. The alcohol consumption rate has increased in recent years and especially in the period since March 2020. People who have been stuck at home, struggling with their anxiety and with the uncertainty of COVID-19, are now drinking more frequently and, even when they can go out, seem to prefer to drink by themselves.
Drinking in bars has become less social in recent years, even before the pandemic hit, according to The Atlantic. One bartender in San Francisco told the magazine reporter, “I have a few regulars who play games on their phone, and I have a standing order to just refill their beer when it’s empty. No eye contact or talking until they are ready to leave.” Another bartender, in Columbus, Ohio, observed that spending money to drink alone in a bar, rather than at home, was a case of “trying to avoid loneliness without actual togetherness.”
Women vs Men
Researchers have found that women are more likely to use alcohol to cope with a stressful situation and with their negative feelings, perhaps because they are more likely to be stressed and sad. Women suffer from depression and anxiety at twice the rate of men and women’s overall happiness has decreased significantly in recent decades.
Today, women appear to be using alcohol in an attempt to control their anxiety around the “breathtaking pace of modern economic and social change.” They are also feeling the loss of “social and family cohesion” that previous generations enjoyed. These women also tend to drink alone, not necessarily to feel better but to try to not feel so bad.
Increases During COVID
The presence of alcohol has become more prevalent and more acceptable in America in the past two decades and the rate of alcohol consumption has risen steadily. Many other countries have actually shown declines in their numbers in recent years.
The consequences in the US have also increased in numbers. Between 1999 and 2017, the number of deaths related to alcohol consumption doubled. The CDC states that over 95,000 deaths in the US can now be attributed to alcohol use. The leading cause of preventable death in the US, alcohol-related deaths shorten the lives of those who die by an average of nearly 29 years.
Research reported by NPR in October 2020 revealed that American adults were drinking 14% more during the pandemic than they had before. The increase for women was 17%, with instances of heavy drinking, four or more drinks within a couple of hours, increasing by 41%. In addition, stores reported selling more, especially when restaurants and bars were forced to close. By late March, retail sales were up 54% over the previous year with online sales also more than doubling.
Contact R&A Therapeutic Partners for Substance Abuse Help
At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we offer you the treatment you need to overcome your substance use and mental health problems and gain control of your life again. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer telehealth and in-office therapy services for your continued well-being.
Please contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno for help with your recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol or management of mental health issues. Call R&A Therapeutic Partners at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
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