Americans Are Drinking More To Cope During The Pandemic. What Are The Health Risks?
A growing body of research indicates Americans' alcohol consumption increased in response to the pandemic. Nearly one in four adults who surveyed by the American Psychological Association said they drank more to manage COVID-related stress.
Plus, data shows Americans were already drinking more pre-pandemic than they had in decades past. Per capita consumption increased by 8% and alcohol-related deaths doubled from 1999 to 2017. Does America have a drinking problem?
Alcohol can have a wide range of negative effects on almost every part of the human body, including the liver. More than 44,000 people in the U.S. died in 2019 of alcoholic liver disease — which often takes years to manifest.
Fewer than one in three Americans recognize alcohol as a cause of cancer, but a recently published study found that at least 4% of esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver and breast cancers diagnosed worldwide in 2020 — more than 740,000 — can be attributed to alcohol consumption.
What other health issues are related to drinking? How serious are they? Is the damage reversible?
Can you consume a "responsible" amount of alcohol without experiencing adverse health effects? How much does drinking regularly or excessively increase the level of risk?
Are Americans' pandemic drinking patterns temporary or here to stay? If so, what impact could this increased consumption have on the overall health of the U.S. population? What is the potential human cost?
Though alcoholism is complex, it can be avoided. When does use become misuse? Why are some people more prone to addiction than others?
What are the signs that you or someone you know may have an alcohol use disorder? How is it treated?
Why is booze often the go-to for both stress reduction and socializing? What does that tell us about our relationship with alcohol?
It's a fact: The less you drink, the less risk there is to your short- and long-term health. So why is it so hard to quit?
- Akhil Anand, M.D., Cleveland Clinic addiction psychiatrist
- Amy Justice, M.D., Ph.D., C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine and professor of public health at Yale School of Medicine
- Eugenia Tsai, M.D., transplant hepatologist at the Texas Liver Institute and assistant professor of medicine UT Health San Antonio
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, July 21.