For the first time in 15 years, the sales of alcohol have dropped around the world, according to CNN. Euromonitor International, a market research firm, began tracking the numbers in 2001. In 2015, the company found that though the dollar amount of sales rose by 2 percent, the overall volume of alcohol consumed worldwide fell 0.7 percent, indicating that people have been buying less alcohol.
There are many theories as to why this may have occurred. Some suggest that contributing factors may include:
- An economic depression in certain areas of the world identified as emerging markets (e.g., 3.5 percent decrease in alcohol consumption in China and 2.5 percent decrease in Brazil)
- War (4.9 percent decrease in consumption of alcohol in Eastern Europe, where Russia and Ukraine are fighting)
- Higher prices for alcohol and/or higher taxes (as indicated by the increased amount of money spent on alcohol despite the lower volume purchased)
- Use of other substances, including prescription drugs and synthetic substances
Spiros Malandrakis is an alcoholic drinks analyst for Euromonitor. He says that while vodka and rum dropped in popularity, Japanese and Irish whiskeys, English gin, and dark beers saw a rise in sales.
Said Malandrakis: “It is no coincidence that those also happen to be the segments gaining further momentum with the ever important millennial demographic in mature Western markets.”
US Alcohol Use Trends
Alcohol use and abuse continue to be a common and significant health problem in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 17 percent of the adult population in the US reported past-month binge drinking in 2013, and 6 percent reported heavy drinking. This has likely contributed to the 88,000 deaths that occur on average every year due to problems related to alcohol use and abuse – about 10 percent of deaths among people between the ages of 20 and 64, adding up to a loss of 2.5 million years of potential life lost. There are additional risks of alcohol use to unborn children of mothers who drink and to people under the age of 21 who drink in any amount.
Binge drinking is defined by drinking more than four drinks for women or five drinks for men in two-hour period. The CDC reports that the practice is most significant (a prevalence of 18 percent to 24.7 percent) in Alaska, Hawaii, and many states in the northern Midwest and Northeast. Though it is commonly thought that binge drinking occurs when someone drinks heavily at a bar or party on the weekend, it is important to note that it can happen very quickly in situations where the focus is not specifically on drinking.
For example, having a drink after work, followed by a glass or two of wine at dinner, and then an after-dinner drink can add up to four or five drinks for the average person in the span of a couple of hours – a normal weekday occurrence for some.
Similarly, going out for a lunch with friends or clients can mean ordering cocktails or a couple of bottles of wine for the table, which can ultimately add up to a binge drinking session very quickly
Heavy drinking is characterized by drinking eight or more drinks for women, or 15 or more drinks for men, over the course of a week. It is important to note that though moderate drinking is defined as one drink in a 24-hour period for women, or two drinks in that time for men, heavy drinking can still be an issue when someone opts to drink a week’s worth of drinks in one sitting.
The risks of imbibing heavily, week in and week out, range from acute issues like a higher chance of accidental injury or car accident if getting behind the wheel to chronic disorders that end life too soon, like certain cancers, heart disease, liver failure, and diabetes. Though legal, common, and often unnoticed – or perhaps because it is so common and often unnoticed – alcohol is arguably one of the most insidious substances of abuse. It can take time for family members and friends to recognize the depth of the problem, and by then, the individual in crisis may not realize the risks or the true nature of the situation.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorders
Alcohol use disorders are diagnosed on a spectrum. From mild to moderate to severe, there are any number of different experiences that can define the experience of someone living with an alcohol use disorder. For this reason, it is important to seek out a treatment program that is designed to fit the unique person and situation.
For example, some options that may play an important role in alcohol abuse and addiction treatment include:
- Medical detox
- Personal therapy
- Group therapy and peer support
- Holistic treatments
- Alternative therapies
- Relapse prevention
- Healthful living assistance
- Directed support for significant issues that may contribute to relapse (e.g., legal help, parenting support, financial planning, etc.)
Not all of these are required for every person seeking to overcome alcohol abuse. However, some combination of these may be helpful in stopping alcohol use, stabilizing physically and emotionally in recovery, and moving forward in life with the tools to remain sober for the long-term.
What does your family need to recover?