November 20th, 2023

Understanding the Rise of Alcohol Use in the United States

Edited by: Dr. Joseph O’Leary

Alcohol use has had a concerning upward trend in the United States over the past decade. It is our goal to shed light on the causal factors contributing to this rise and provide a comprehensive understanding of the situation. By exploring societal, economic, and psychological aspects, we can better grasp the underlying reasons behind the increase of alcohol consumption in the US. 

Data on Alcohol Use in the United State

According to the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) 

29.5 million people ages 12 and older (10.6% in this age group) qualified for Alcohol Use Disorder in the past year. 16.6 million males ages 12 and older (12.1% in this age group). 13 million females ages 12 and older (9.1% in this age group). 

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)  

More than half of US adults report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. Nearly 17% of adults binge drink and 6% report heavy drinking. 

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) 

Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 diseases and injury conditions. 

Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life. In people aged 20–39 years, approximately 13.5% of total deaths are attributable to alcohol. 

Evolving Social Norms 

Social norms in the U.S. have evolved over time. Alcohol is no exception to this social evolution. There has been a gradual shift in attitudes toward alcohol in recent years. This includes increased acceptance and normalization of alcohol within social settings. This change has potentially led to greater accessibility and fewer social barriers. This in turn encourages more people to drink. 

Stress and Coping Mechanisms 

The fast-paced and demanding nature of modern life has resulted in high stress for many. Alcohol becomes a means of escape for some drinkers. It serves as a coping mechanism to deal with the pressures of everyday life. The association of alcohol with stress relief can lead to increased consumption as people seek a temporary escape from their anxieties. 

As you continue drinking alcohol on a regular basis, you begin to build up tolerance. You must progressively consume more alcohol over time to achieve the desired effects as you become more accustomed to drinking regularly. Drinking may have started off as fun and relaxing, but it has the potential for the user to spiral out of control with their consumption. 

Advertising and Marketing 

The influence of alcohol advertising and marketing strategies cannot be overlooked. Advertisements often portray alcohol consumption as glamorous, exciting, and an integral part of social interactions. The alcohol industry’s extensive advertising campaigns have effectively reached a wide audience. This helps create the societal perception that alcohol enhances social experiences. Such marketing efforts contribute to increased alcohol use among susceptible populations, especially young adults. 

Economic Factors 

Economic factors play a crucial role in the rise of alcohol use. Economic downturns, unemployment, and financial instability can lead individuals to seek solace in alcohol to cope with hardship or to temporarily escape reality. Economic factors may also influence drinking patterns through changes in affordability. Those experiencing financial difficulties are less likely to quit drinking when there are budget friendlier options available to them. 

Accessibility and Availability 

The availability and accessibility of alcohol are key contributors to rising consumption rates. The wide variety of alcohol retailers, relaxed regulations, and the growth of online alcohol sales have made it easier for individuals to obtain alcohol. Increased availability, coupled with factors such as round-the-clock access and the prevalence of alcohol in various establishments, contribute to higher rates of consumption. 

Cultural and Peer Influence 

Cultural and peer influences play a significant role in shaping alcohol consumption habits. Social gatherings, celebrations, and daily interactions with peers can involve alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol becomes a normative behavior over time as you continually attend to these peer interactions which include alcohol. The desire to conform, socialize, or fit into a particular group may encourage individuals to engage in more frequent or heavier drinking, leading to an overall increase in alcohol use. 

Treatment Options for Alcohol Use Disorder 

When it comes to treating Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), there are several effective options available to help individuals regain control over their lives. One commonly utilized approach is behavioral therapy via outpatient treatment. Behavioral therapy aims to modify harmful behaviors while developing healthy coping mechanisms. Peer support groups provide a sense of community during the recovery process. There are many different peer support groups available which focus on recovery from alcohol, both online and in-person.  There are three different FDA-approved medications that are available to help curb the use of alcohol.  It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or treatment center to determine the most suitable treatment options based on individual circumstances. The right combination of therapies and support systems can significantly increase the likelihood of achieving long-term recovery. 

Kolmac Integrated Behavioral Health 

If you or a loved one is struggling with drinking, reaching out to Kolmac Integrated Behavioral Health can be a life-changing decision. With their expertise and compassionate approach to treatment, Kolmac offers a comprehensive and effective solution to overcome alcohol-related problems. Their team of experienced professionals understand the complexities of addiction and provide personalized care tailored to your specific needs. Kolmac has over 45 years of experience providing intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) as well as one-on-one therapy! 

By contacting Kolmac, you can enroll and gain access to evidence-based therapies, a supportive community, and a safe environment that promotes lasting recovery. Take the first step toward a happier and healthier life! Contact Kolmac Integrated Behavioral Health today! It’s an investment in your well-being that can lead to a brighter future free from the grips of alcohol. 


Understanding the reasons behind rising alcohol use in the United States requires a comprehensive exploration of societal, economic, and psychological factors. Evolving social norms, stress and coping mechanisms, advertising and marketing, economic factors, accessibility and availability, as well as cultural and peer influences all contribute to the increasing rates of alcohol consumption. By recognizing and addressing these factors, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and society can work together to implement targeted interventions and public health strategies aimed at reducing excessive alcohol use and promoting healthier choices. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, remember, help is just a call away. Call Kolmac at 301-453-5174. Your path to a healthier, brighter future begins with a simple step. We’re ready to support you on your journey to recovery.   

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