Attractiveness. Affordability. Availability. These three factors can make or break America’s struggle against the crisis of alcoholism and we’re intentionally ignoring them.
“There is a large body of research,” claims Dr. David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth of Johns Hopkins, “that shows that if you deal with the attractiveness by restricting the marketing; if you deal with the affordability by dealing with price and increasing alcohol taxes regularly; and if you deal with the physical availability—you can reduce alcohol problems.”
Through all that research, these solutions are known and understood. So why is alcohol consumption going up, and with it, the problem of addiction and associated health problems?
In 2018, US consumers spent $253.8 billion on alcohol purchases. With that much money on the line, Big Alcohol has every reason to continue pushing billions in advertising on the 240.7 million persons of legal drinking age in our country, which increases the “attractiveness” factor.
In fact, if anything Big Alcohol’s influence on the attractiveness extends beyond marketing and into the domain of scientific study. In 2017, a massive study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) was canceled after it was revealed who was providing the bulk of the funding. The Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health, as it was known, was designed to be a “six-year study of 7,000 subjects at risk of heart disease.” NIAAA wanted to assess the impact of daily alcohol consumption on these volunteers.
But, as it turned out, $67 million of the $100 million needed for funding was given by Anheuser-Busch InBev, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Heineken, and Carlsberg. In other words, Big Alcohol was funding a government study to determine the effect of daily drinking on heart health...while turning a blind eye to other health risks such as cancer. Clearly, such a conflict of interest should have never been allowed in the first place.
Meanwhile, the traditional thinking for tackling “affordability” is to set price floors and increase taxes on alcohol, which have been proven to lower sales in other countries.
“Researchers have found that on average when alcohol prices go up by 10%, people will drink 5% to 8% less,” according to Professor Alex Wagenaar of Emory University.
With ~ 88,000 Americans dying because of alcohol every single year, we might think the government would want to do more to address such preventable deaths. Unfortunately, no such measures are being taken to handle the affordability factor. Alcohol remains as cheap as ever. In fact, it could be argued that it’s getting cheaper because the average inflation rate for alcohol is lower than the average rate for other products!
The only factor remaining is “availability” and studies are inconclusive regarding the effects of limiting alcohol sales on certain days and hours. Indeed, it’s up to each state and county to determine their own specific policies. One thing is well known—in most areas it is extremely easy to purchase wine, high Alcohol per Volume (ABV) beer, and liquors at your local grocery store-turned-alcohol outlet. No special trip to a liquor store required.
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Gulf Breeze Recovery, unlike other treatment centers in Florida, is a non 12 step holistic drug and alcohol rehab that is changing the future of addiction treatment with their THRIVE® (Total Health Recovery) program focused on overcoming chronic relapse.
Gulf Breeze Recovery’s THRIVE® program is a non 12-step approach designed for those who are looking for a drug and alcohol treatment program to produce a different and positive result.
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