What comes to mind when you see the number 88,000? The number of people packed into a football stadium for the big game? The number of dollars you wished you earned in year? Price of the sports car you dream about? Maybe the miles on your cars odometer. Certainly 88,000 is a large number.
What if I said that is the number of people that die each year due to something? Would that cause you to be concerned of what this is and what can we do about it, or to stop it? What if it was 88,000 people who died because of poor drinking water, or an infectious disease, or product defect? Would or should there be public outcry to stop it? What if I said it’s tearing families apart, costing all of us billions of dollars in increased health costs, is a billion dollar industry, and yet is an acceptable part of our society. You may be thinking smoking, and that would be a good guess. That number is actually almost five and one half times higher at 480,000 smoking related deaths each year.(CDC)
So what is the 88,000? It’s the number of alcohol related deaths in the US in 2014, most recent numbers I found. (NIH.GOV) Alcohol deaths are at a 35 year high.
In recent years the focus of many news reports has been on heroin and prescription painkiller deaths. Seems like almost daily you hear yet another tragic story of an overdose. It is very sad, and affects many people in many different ways, from parents, siblings, friends, employers, etc. I as you hate hearing the story of another death. Not to down play the seriousness of this issue however the numbers attributed to heroin and prescription painkillers was just under 29,000. Far too many and the impact caused by these deaths can’t be measured. That is one third of the number of people who die from alcohol related deaths. Is the difference because alcohol can take 20 – 30 years to kill you? I’m sure we all know someone who passed from an alcohol related cause. Is it because alcohol is legal and that makes it OK. Alcohol related driving deaths account for just under 10,000 of the 88,000. A number I thought would have been higher.
How long can you watch TV before you see an alcohol commercial? That beach looks mighty inviting! When was the last time by using a product you were taken to a beach, and didn’t have a care? Everything about drinking on TV and other media is inviting. It’s all fun, no one seems to have any problems, just smiles, fun and relaxation. So they have done a great job. We all know what the frogs sold, or who the worlds most interesting man in the world is, or the dog named Spudz. The reality is what is happening to the family unit, divorce & suicide rates, health & insurance costs, and legal consequences.
What if they placed a hospital bed on that same beach with someone holding that same beverage? Much different message. That’s the reality. Now think about the amount of money poured into our government by tavern leagues, or PAC & special interest groups both on the state and federal levels. Kind of ironic the same people who want to decrease your health care are the same people who take a kickback from the group or groups who cause the most health related issues. (Alcohol & tobacco) Then at the same time claim that there just is not enough help, money or resources available for the people who have a problem. What if I said ten percent of American adults (2.4 million) consume an average of 74 drinks a week, 10+ a day. Many of these people are high functioning within our communities and not the “bums” at the local shelter who are down on their luck. How many of them drive a car in an impaired condition? I’m not anti-alcohol, but I am all about people who may need help and then getting help. It’s a horrible thing to watch the destruction caused by this drug.
I am here to say there is help out there, and I want to be a part of it. There are many different emotions, and fears that may surround drinking, and I understand that, I’ve been there. I have also seen what it does to families, relationships, children, health, and employment first hand. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to lose it all to do something about it. If you or a family member are struggling, seek help, please.
Call me now so you won’t be 88,001!
Alcohol Recovery Coach, Steve