With 14.1 million U.S. adults diagnosed with Alcohol Usage Disorder in 2019, 1 and with alcohol as the third-largest factor in preventable deaths in the United States, it is important to ask ourselves: why are alcohol use and abuse so accepted in the United States? With numbers like these, alcohol treatment programs can be a lifeline for many.
In the United States, alcohol has permeated many aspects of everyday life. Whether you are celebrating a joyful occasion like a wedding or large birthday party or going through hardships such as heartbreak, a stressful day, or the death of a loved one, using alcohol as a social or emotional lubricant is all too common.
Though it is difficult to pinpoint a specific reason for this cultural norm, we have outlined three of the many factors that contribute to this pattern:
#1: Alcohol Use is Interwoven in American History and Economics
The founding of the country, world wars, the prohibition era, and the variety of political situations throughout history have contributed to the ebb and flow of alcohol use in the United States. But what remains consistent is the economic incentive that drinking alcohol provides both businesses and the government.
As a whole, the normalization of alcohol use is incredibly convenient for making money. This is because alcohol specifically has a heightened sales tax that is dependent on state law. With the alcohol tax’s revenue skyrocketing to 9.99 billion dollars in 2019, it is clear that the United States has been relying heavily on alcohol’s role as a money maker. 2
#2: Marketing Campaigns Glorify Alcohol
Marketing has also played a role in alcohol’s widespread acceptance in the United States. Time and time again, alcohol is positioned in advertisements as nothing more than an exciting substance to try. Many of the ads surrounding alcohol involve beautiful young people with a flashy lifestyle of glamor and partying. This portrays a false reality that drinking in excess is cool and fun.
Due to these unrealistic depictions and the overall exposure in advertisements to a culture of alcohol use at an early age, young Americans have an increased likelihood of viewing alcohol as a necessity to their lifestyle. Across the years, many studies have shown a positive correlation between exposure to alcohol advertisements and rates of alcohol consumption. 3
Furthermore, in 2020 alone, the alcoholic drinks market reached a shocking 232,409 million dollars in sales. 4 With all of this money flooding back to alcohol companies, it only reinforces the vicious cycle of romanticized depictions that glorify drinking to a point of purchase.
#3: The Correlation Between Mental Health and Alcohol Abuse in the United States
The rates of mental health disorders in the United States are much higher than in other countries worldwide. In fact, studies found that an astounding 25% of the population are expected to struggle with their mental health at some point in their life. 5
Since alcohol use disorder is qualified as one of these conditions, the higher rates of mental health disorders correlate with higher alcohol abuse rates. Those struggling with mental health conditions outside of alcohol addiction, such as depression and anxiety, may also use it as a means for coping with their unpleasant symptoms.
Are You at Risk for an Alcohol Addiction?
Regardless of your background or life experience, nobody in the United States is immune to the potential of acquiring an alcohol disorder. However, there are various lifestyle, genetic, and environmental factors to keep in mind that make your risk for alcohol addiction all the more likely.
Three of the common factors that contribute to addiction risk include 6:
- Mental Health or Emotional Concerns: If you have comorbid mental health disorders or are coping with emotional trauma, you are likely to have a greater risk of addiction.
- Family Ties: Due to substance abuse’s ties to genetics, if you are in a family with a prevalence of alcohol disorders, your genetics could point to a heightened risk for addiction.
- Peer Pressure: Your risk increases when you are in a social group or cultural environment where alcohol consumption or binge drinking is praised and common amongst your peers.
Recovery is Possible with Alcohol Treatment Programs
With all of the factors contributing to alcohol addiction in the United States, it is best to diagnose any symptoms of alcoholism with the assistance of trained professionals. Sobriety is a difficult journey, especially in a society that normalizes addiction. But our clients are proof that recovery is always possible.
Ocean Hills Recovery provides a safe and supportive environment. We aid individuals in starting their journey towards a fulfilling, substance-free future. Contact us today for our alcohol treatment programs that offer unmatched care for those struggling with alcoholism.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.