Why is Alcohol Addiction On The Rise?


This Redemption Recovery article takes a look at why America’s alcohol consumption and alcohol addiction are on the rise — and just what can be done about it. 

Alcohol Addiction is On The Rise in America — But Why?

After years of a steady decline which began in the late 1980s, America’s appetite for alcohol is climbing once again. Numerous surveys and studies have found that heavy drinking in the U.S. was already increasing as early as 2011-2012, but the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to kick it into high gear.

It’s easy to understand how the COVID-19 situation may have contributed to this problem. The stress and isolation and just plain boredom brought about by lockdowns. The fear of getting sick and even dying was a significant source of anxiety for millions of Americans too, and heavy drinking, unfortunately, is often a response to anxiety. 

Why is alcohol addiction increasing in America?

  • We’re not sure, but COVID-19 seems to be a contributing factor.
  • Many people respond to stress and anxiety by drinking more than usual.
  • Drinking more than usual for an extended period of time can lead to alcohol addiction. 

Why Is A Temporary Crisis Leading to More Alcohol Addiction?

How did all of this give way to an increase in alcohol addiction and dependence though? It’s perhaps too soon to tell for sure, but our theory is that the length of time is a factor. Had the COVID-19 pandemic been a different type of event, say a tragic natural disaster or plane crash —- another type of event that has a sort of national, mass traumatic effect — except it happened and then it was over, we think it would have been different. People may have responded by drinking more for a time, but then that time would pass and the majority of them would return to their pre-crisis alcohol intake levels.

But COVID was different. In this case, we already had a steadily increasing alcohol consumption and alcohol addiction rate. Then we added a serious public health crisis to it that didn’t last a few weeks or even a few months, but a couple of YEARS. That’s a very long time for most people to endure the substantial changes to routines and everyday life that the COVID response, lockdowns, and COVID itself brought into our lives. Not only that but millions of people were directly affected by COVID. Millions more had family or loved ones who got sick or even died from it. 

Why is a temporary situation leading to less-than-temporary alcohol addiction?

  • The length of time that the COVID-19 pandemic stretched across is a factor.
  • The impact of stress and anxiety over a long period can be exponential. 
  • Some people may be drinking due to depression or grief having lost loved ones. 
  • Changes in routine, disruption of school schedules, and economic insecurity may be factors too. 

What Can Be Done About Alcohol Addiction?

While we can’t be completely certain about the precise causes of this spike in alcoholism, it does not mean nothing can be done to change its direction. Articles like this one are part of the response. Raising awareness is more powerful than most people realize. 

Likely, millions of those Americans who are drinking more now and have developed alcohol use disorders aren’t entirely aware of their predicament. Whether it’s because the changes overcame them slowly or it’s denial doesn’t matter. But if one of them happens to see this article or one like it and it gets them thinking, then we’ve done a good thing here.

What Can I Do To Help My Loved One With Alcoholism?

This is one of the questions we are asked the most. It can be incredibly painful to watch someone you love descending into alcoholism. It’s easy to feel powerless, hopeless even. While you can’t directly control that person’s behavior (as much as you might like to) there are things you can do to help. 

The first is simply to be there for them. Make sure they see you as a safe person to talk to, to confide in. Even if you’re disappointed or even disgusted by their behavior, put that aside and offer support without judgment. This does not mean enabling them person, allowing codependence, or being a sycophant. You do not want to “co-sign their BS”. In other words, don’t accept excuses about their drinking or minimizing it. It is what it is. 

You don’t have to be harsh and judgemental but do not support their denial or make it easier for them to pretend everything’s ok if it isn’t. Most importantly though, let that person know you’re aware they are in crisis and that you are willing to help them, the moment they are ready. That doesn’t mean becoming an amateur sober coach and following them around to knock drinks out of their hand. That’s not what real help looks like. 

Real help will mean helping them get the alcoholism treatment they need. You can’t push or force them into it, but you can let them know you will do whatever you can to help them get the help they need. Even if all you can do for now is go to an AA meeting with them for support, do it if you can. They will likely need more than just meetings, but it’s a start. Keep them talking. Keep the lines of communication open. Keep them moving in a positive direction in any way you can. 

How can you help a loved one with a drinking problem?

  • Make yourself available to talk — don’t shut them out.
  • Don’t support their denial or minimize their drinking.
  • Don’t enable them or become codependent. 
  • Offer support and help them to get the help they need 

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in Ohio

If you or someone else you know is addicted to alcohol, Redemption Recovery can help. We work closely with dedicated medical detox facilities and offer a comprehensive alcoholism treatment program in Ohio. 
Redemption Recovery is ready to help you or the person you love conquer their alcohol use disorder or other addiction. We offer a range of treatment options from partial hospitalization programs (PHP) to intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and outpatient programs in Ohio. All it takes is a phone call to (419) 528-8007 to get answers to your questions.

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