A recent article in the Washington Post, Americans are drinking themselves to death at record rates, demonstrates the rising trend of alcohol-related deaths. Societal influences encourage prevention professionals to focus on prescription drug and heroin abuse, and while that is important, according to the CDC, alcohol deaths surpass both prescription pain medication and heroin deaths combined.
The article goes on to theorize reasons for the trend. Per capita, American’s are drinking at higher rates and women are catching up with men in average consumption. Another possibility is the confusing information related to the potential benefits of drinking for cardiovascular health.
According to the article, “One way to rein in problem drinking would be to simply raise federal alcohol taxes, which are currently at historically low levels.” An older Washington Post article, Our booze is too cheap and it’s literally killing us goes into additional detail about the reasons as to why alcohol is killing us. “Higher taxes make alcohol more expensive. More expensive alcohol makes people drink less of it. And when people are drinking less, they’re less likely to suffer costly health problems or do stupid things like drive drunk.”
Based on these and other data points, alcohol taxes and other public policy strategies are vitally important for saving lives, however it is often difficult to know what approaches to take and what partners to make.
The alcohol policy conferences are a series that, from its outset in 1981, have been a forum for researchers, community practitioners, and public officials to meet and exchange findings, explore evidence-based solutions, and consider adoption of policies aimed at minimizing risks associated with alcohol use.
It is time to turn back the growing trend of alcohol-related deaths. Success can be had and change will be most effective when working in collaborative, coordinated efforts.