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Alcoholism in Older Adults in America

Definition of the Problem

Alcoholism is a broad term used to define the consumption of alcohol that leads to problems. According to the American National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 70% of Americans drink alcohol regularly, but at low-risk levels (NIAAA, 2015). Independents studies reveal that 86.8% of Americans have drank alcohol at least once in their lifetime (such studies only sampled the view of respondents who were aged 18 years and above) (CDC, 2015). The CDC (2015) says that 28% of Americans engage in excessive consumption of alcohol, which increases their risk of alcohol dependence. Similarly, a 2013 survey found out that 25% of Americans engage in binge drinking. The same survey showed that 6.8% of this population participates in heavy drinking (NIAAA, 2015).

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Justification of the Problem

Alcohol consumption is not a health problem if it is moderate. However, binge drinking and the consumption of alcohol for long periods could result in serious health and socioeconomic problems. Such kinds of problems affect millions of Americans who suffer from alcoholism. Some of the known health problems associated with alcoholism include brain damage, increased predisposition to certain types of cancers, liver disease, hypertension, lung disease, and kidney problems (among others) (NIAAA, 2015). According to Gifford (2009), there are more than 88,000 alcohol-related deaths in America, annually. This statistic elevates alcohol-related deaths to be among the leading causes of preventable deaths in America. Since alcoholism also affects the cognitive function of its victims, alcohol consumption has also caused many cases of accidents and fatalities. According to 2013 statistics on drug and alcohol abuse, alcoholism accounts for more than 10,000 deaths annually (NIAAA, 2015). Alcoholism also has an economic burden to the American society because statistics show that it costs the country more than $200 billion annually (Gifford, 2009). Alcoholism also affects a person’s relationship with those around them. Some of the long-term effects of alcoholism on the society include crime, accidents and drunk driving, most of which could cause death or injuries. Based on the social, economic and health problems of alcoholism, it is pertinent to adopt effective ways of minimizing its incidence on the society.

Resolving the Issue

Many international and national organizations have developed policies to discourage alcohol consumption and alcoholism (CDC, 2015). Some of these policies have focused on preventing the sale of alcohol to underage buyers and increasing tax to discourage alcohol purchases. However, most of these interventions have not resulted in significant gains in the fight to tackle alcoholism. Based on this background, this paper proposes that public health workers could best tackle the problem by focusing on the socioeconomic factors that fuel the vice. For example, experts should support the creation of a social support system for helping recovering alcoholics to overcome their alcohol addiction. Continued therapy and positive motivation are also key initiatives that could help in the reduction of alcoholism in the society. The efficacy of these interventions stems from decades of research, which suggest that without these interventions, alcoholics could easily relapse in their journey to recovery (Gifford, 2009).


CDC. (2015). Preventing Excessive Alcohol Use. Web.

Gifford, M. (2009). Alcoholism. New York, NY: ABC-CLIO.

NIAAA. (2015). Alcohol Facts and Statistics. Web.

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