Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the United States.
As a legal controlled substance, alcohol is easier to obtain than any other illicit depressant. While alcohol is commonly used in many social settings, not everyone who consumes alcohol struggles with alcohol abuse or alcoholism. When alcohol begins to negatively impact a person’s life and relationships, it is more likely that the person is struggling with an alcohol use disorder.
Beer is one of the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverages available. Compared to wine and hard liquor, the alcohol content by volume (ABV) is relatively low. Beer’s ABV can range between 2 to 12 percent. Some of the most commonly consumed beers in the United States have approximately 4 to 6 percent, with most consumers needing three to five beers to be over the legal limit. Beer is also ingrained in many activities in American culture. It is not uncommon to find alcohol in most recreational settings. From college campus parties to after-work happy hours, alcohol is a seemingly normalized part of social interactions. Click here to learn about how not drinking can help to improve your health.
The Rise of Craft Beer
The introduction of craft beer has made alcohol even more accessible. With microbreweries and home brewers, countless individuals are experimenting with new flavors and tastes, pushing the limits and bringing new drinks to the market. One side effect of the craft beer boom is the introduction of beers with significantly higher amounts of alcohol than most average beers. Many of these alcoholic beverages contain as much as 11 to 12 percent ABV. The higher percentage of ABV makes it easier than ever to mask alcoholism. While there is obviously a problem when an individual drinks a 12-pack of beer by themselves, drinking a couple of beers with a high percentage of alcohol content is easier to disguise. In some cases, a single liter of beer can contain more alcohol than a six-pack of a more commonly consumed beer.
The rise in popularity of craft beer has made it easier to mask alcoholism and disguise it as “craft beer appreciation”. With countless new releases offered by a growing number of breweries, consumers are inundated with options to sample. New craft beers are released almost weekly in some areas, and many come with fun promotions and events to entice participants. This—in conjunction with a vast array of beer festivals with too many beers to sample—makes it easy to link alcohol abuse with the growing craft beer market.
When does Alcohol Use become Abuse?
As a brewer of craft beer or a participant in the market, it can be easy to consume excessive alcohol. A lot of time is spent creating and sampling concoctions made at home in addition to those made by others in the industry. Without realizing it, individuals can build tolerances and eventually dependencies because it is easy to overindulge. While it is important to keep the below questions in mind whenever consuming alcohol, it is especially important to consider when involved in the craft beer industry:
- How often are you drinking? Consider how frequently you drink alcohol. If you are consuming alcohol almost every night, what is the purpose of it? Drinking alcohol consistently can increase tolerance and lead to dependency.
- Are you often getting drunk? This is important to consider in conjunction with how frequently you are drinking. If you are regularly getting drunk, it can cause a number of adverse effects. In addition to negative physical and psychological effects, it and can contribute to dependency.
- Is alcohol affecting your physical health? Often those who consume alcohol excessively will experience a number of negative health consequences. This may include weight gain, difficulty exercising, trouble sleeping, and other adverse effects. Alcohol can damage vital organs and can influence the development of more serious health problems.
- Is alcohol consumption negatively affecting you financially? As the craft beer industry evolves, specialized brews and other unique offerings contribute to rising prices. The increase in prices can make it easier to be financially irresponsible, which can in turn make it difficult to function in other areas of life due to financial constraints.