US Alcohol Epidemic Gives Church Major Opportunity to Help By Tré Goins-Phillips for Faith Wire
GNN Note – As a recovered alcoholic and a person committed to participating in the 12th Step (spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ) it is disheartening to know there are so many churches that do so little to help with the homeless, the addicted and the unwanted, the unwashed and societal rejects.
The United States is in the middle of a fast-growing epidemic: the number of alcohol-related deaths has more than doubled over the last two decades.
In 1999, alcohol contributed to the deaths of 35,914 people aged 16 and older. In 2017, the number of alcohol-related deaths had reached 72,558. The death rate tied to alcohol rose 51 percent, from 16.9 to 25.5 per 100,000, according to a study published Jan. 7 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Just shy of one million alcohol-related deaths — 944,880 — were recorded between 1999 and 2017. And in 2017 alone, nearly 3 percent of roughly 3 million deaths in the U.S. involved alcohol. Of those, almost half resulted from liver disease (30.7 percent) or overdoses on alcohol alone or paired with other drugs (17.9 percent).
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data revealing a 12 percent increase in binge drinking over a span of six years. The CDC totaled the annual number of alcoholic drinks consumed by adult binge drinkers — which includes people who have seven or more drinks during one occasion per week and makes up 17 percent of U.S. adults — and found the average number had spiked from 472 in 2011 to 529 in 2017.
The state with the lowest average number of drinks during a binge was Massachusetts at 320. The highest, by contrast, was Wyoming at 1,219.
These troubling numbers, as Gospel Coalition editor Joe Carter pointed out, present an opportunity for the church to step in.