10% Of Americans Are Likely Alcoholics


#1

washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/25/think-you-drink-a-lot-this-chart-will-tell-you/

Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night? That puts you in the top 30 percent of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If you drink two glasses, that would put you in the top 20 percent.

But in order to break into the top 10 percent of American drinkers, you would need to drink more than two bottles of wine with every dinner. And you’d still be below-average among those top 10 percenters.

The top 10 percent of American drinkers - 24 million adults over age 18 - consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.
Or, if you prefer, 10 drinks per day.

These figures come from Philip J. Cook’s “Paying the Tab,” an economically-minded examination of the costs and benefits of alcohol control in the U.S. Specifically, they’re calculations made using the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data.

I double-checked these figures with Cook, just to make sure I wasn’t reading them wrong. “I agree that it’s hard to imagine consuming 10 drinks a day,” he told me. But, “there are a remarkable number of people who drink a couple of six packs a day, or a pint of whiskey.”

As Cook notes in his book, the top 10 percent of drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year. On the other hand, people in the bottom three deciles don’t drink at all, and even the median consumption among those who do drink is just three beverages per week.
The shape of this usage curve isn’t exactly unique. The Pareto Law states that “the top 20 percent of buyers for most any consumer product account for fully 80 percent of sales,” according to Cook. The rule can be applied to everything from hair care products to X-Boxes.

But the consequences of the Pareto Law are different when it comes to industries like alcohol, tobacco, and now marijuana. If you consume 10+ drinks per day, for instance, you almost certainly have a drinking problem. But the beverage industry is heavily dependent on you for their profits.

“One consequence is that the heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic-beverage industry,” he writes writes. “If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent.”


#2

The problem is the disease is progressive till death. So for example with this…

The top 10 percent of American drinkers - 24 million adults over age 18 - consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.
Or, if you prefer, 10 drinks per day.

When we then come to this point…

On the other hand, people in the bottom three deciles don’t drink at all, and even the median consumption among those who do drink is just three beverages per week.

I don’t know how accurate this is as the progression doesn’t go from not drinking at all to three drinks a week. I don’t see this with alcoholics. What I see is individuals prone to the disease through their own behavior and genetic makeup who quickly escalate in consumption from non confrontation.

The point where the responsible social drinker becomes and alcoholic has always been contested and contingent on if the addict is functional or not.

“If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent.”

This is likely to increase not decrease, because a functional addict is in denial and they do not believe they have an issue until its problematic and undeniable. They believe they are social butterflys. :slight_smile:


#3

This is not too surprising. If one knows a true alcoholic well, the alcohol consumption can be truly staggering. One is baffled at how they can even do it.

10% seems a bit high to me, but for many it seems to take a long time to get to the “fifth per day” or more, level. But the consumption increases little by little as they go. So, I can easily believe 10% consume more than they should.


#4

I don’t usually have ten drinks of anything in a day let alone ten alcoholic drinks! :eek:


#5

I know I can’t drink 8 glasses of water a day. :smiley:


#6

:smiley: I know I should, but it’s just so. much. water.


#7

Thanks for the post. Alcoholism is not so much how much one drinks, but what happens when they do.

Though I believe 10% of Americans could be classified as problem drinkers, those consumption numbers seem pretty exaggerated.

Again, thanks for the post.


#8

Considering how depressing and anxiety-ridden daily life can be, I certainly don’t fault anyone for drinking. And for the truly unfortunate among us, that strategy actually works. Until it doesn’t. Struggling with and overcoming alcoholism is an excellent way to acquire self-knowledge, if you don’t die or go permanently mad in the process.


#9

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