Recent figures suggest that alcoholism has risen significantly in the last few years. Over 1.2 million admissions into hospital each year due to alcohol abuse are recorded in the UK. There has been a great deal of progress made in recent years in relation to the treatment of addiction, and a lot of money has been spent promoting the dangers of binge drinking. Why, then, is the situation continuing to get worse? There are a number of possible reasons why alcoholism is on the rise in western countries – we have listed a few in the below paragraphs.
Modern Living Can Be Incredibly Stressful
People today tend to be under a great deal of pressure, with the demands of modern living incredibly stressful. Drinking alcohol can appear a quick way to unwind at the end of the day, so it is easy to see how this could quickly become a habit. It is probably the case that the majority of alcoholics start by self-medicating their worries and concerns, so the slide into addiction can happen so subtly that they do not even notice.
Social Media is Encouraging Irresponsible Drinking
There is no doubt that the internet has been a powerful force for teaching people about the dangers of alcohol abuse, but it has also made the problem worse in some ways. Social media has become a way for individuals to share their drunken exploits online; and it has led to an increase in the number of people playing dangerous drinking games as well. There have already been reports of deaths due to social media drinking games.
Alcohol is Too Cheap
One of the factors that may be leading to increased rates of alcoholism is been the availability of cheap alcohol in the UK. In the past, it has been possible to go to the supermarket and make savings by buying alcohol in bulk (for example, three bottles of wine for the price of two). The fact that people were buying more will have encouraged them to drink more. It does seem likely that there will soon be new laws prohibiting the sale of cheap alcohol, but a lot of damage has already been done because of it.
Elderly alcohol abuse used to be described as a hidden epidemic, but the effects of older people caught up in addiction are becoming more noticeable. The UK has an ageing populating, and there is a risk of people turning to alcohol after they retire. This can happen due to loneliness, a sense of loss of purpose, or just dealing with the fears of getting old. Even those who have been safely drinking alcohol for years can become alcoholics in retirement.
Loss of Sense of Community
There is far less a sense of community in the UK than there were a couple of decades ago. There has never been a time in history when so many people feel isolated in society. One way to deal with this loneliness and alienation can be to turn to alcohol or drugs. This isolation can also mean that the person has already developed a serious alcohol problem before the symptoms become noticeable to others – if it is noticed at all.
Underage drinking continues to be a huge problem in the UK, and there is no evidence that this is getting any less of a problem. The younger a person is when they start drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to be an alcoholic later on in life.