Alcohol abuse and alcoholism is a huge problem across the United States, but the problems differ from state to state. Massachusetts has one of the biggest drinking problems in America. Massachusetts also has the highest rate of underage drinking in the country and a high rate of alcohol poisoning deaths. Let’s first look at the underage drinking issues in Massachusetts.
Underage Drinking in Massachusetts
Underage drinking causes a lot of problems. Studies have shown that states with a high rate of youth alcoholism also usually have higher rates of suicide, trauma, homicide, unprotected sex, violent criminal activity, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisoning and death, and the need for alcohol treatment. Underage drinking costs the state of Massachusetts a lot of money too. According to an article written for Needham, MA:
Underage drinking cost the citizens of Massachusetts $1.4 billion in 2010. These costs include medical care, work loss, and pain and suffering associated with the multiple problems resulting from the use of alcohol by youth. (Needham, MA)
Alcoholism affects individuals of any age, even adolescents and young adults, especially if they start early as binge drinkers. That binge drinking can slowly turn into chronic alcoholism that is daily and makes a person dependent on alcohol. Luckily, even for young adults that are abusing alcohol, there are evidence-based Massachusetts alcohol detox programs. Once you’re older and haven’t been able to stop drinking in your younger years, it becomes more difficult by the day.
Alcohol Abuse Among Young Adults
There are approximately 303,000 underage drinkers in Massachusetts. In 2009, Massachusetts students in grades 9-12 reported:
- 3% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life.
- 2% had their first drink of alcohol, other than a few sips, before age 13.
- 6% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasions in the past 30 days.
- 5% had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (binge drinking) in the past 30 days.
- 8% had at least one drink of alcohol on school property in the past 30 days.
In 2009, underage customers consumed 15.6% of all alcohol sold in Massachusetts, totaling $592 million in sales (in 2010 dollars). (Needham, MA) Alcohol impairment is risky for all ages, but especially for youth who are still growing and developing. Often minors will engage in risky behavior without thinking of the consequences. Also, minors have a lower alcohol tolerance and can become intoxicated quickly. Underage drinking in Massachusetts leads to substantial harm due to traffic crashes, violent crime, property crime, unintentional injury, and risky sex.
- During 2009, an estimated 13 traffic fatalities and 759 nonfatal traffic injuries were attributable to driving after underage drinking.
- In 2009, an estimated 21 homicides; 22,500 nonfatal violent crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault; and 29,900 properties crimes including burglary, larceny, and car theft were attributable to underage drinking.
- In 2007, an estimated 5 alcohol-involved fatal burns, drownings, and suicides were attributable to underage drinking.
- In 2009 and estimated 357 teen pregnancies and 20,420 teens having risky sex were attributable to underage drinking.
For comparison with other states, in the US rather than state prices, the harm from underage drinking per youth in Massachusetts averages $1,181. (Needham, MA) Parents can help prevent underage drinking by trying to get their child to stop and pause before engaging in risky behavior. Sometimes if they can visualize the ramifications of their decision it can lead to better decision making.
Alcohol Poisoning Deaths in Massachusetts
Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period. High levels of alcohol can cause critical areas in the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature to shut down resulting in death. Some of the signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Inability to wake up
- Slow breathing (less than 8 breaths per minute)
- Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
According to an article published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
Massachusetts had 11.9-46.5 deaths per million people, from alcohol poisoning, putting it in the top quarter of all states. (CDC)
A lot of people mistakenly think this must be an issue with college students, but it’s not. The statistics show that alcohol-related deaths are largely due to middle-aged white men. Three-fourths of the alcohol poisoning deaths were people between the ages of 35 and 64, and three-fourths of those were male. In addition to that, 68 percent of the alcohol poisoning deaths came from non-Hispanic whites.
Are Alcohol Statistics Improving?
In 2010, alcohol-related death rates were increasing in Massachusetts, but this was partly due to an alcoholic energy drink called Four Loko. Four Loko was a drink high in both alcohol and caffeine and could leave a person awake and functioning way past the point of passing out from alcohol poisoning. This drink and others of the like have been banned, and since then the rates of alcoholism have steadily declined. Also, the number of violent crimes from alcohol abuse and the number of people needing treatment from alcoholism has continually decreased since 2010.
Evidence-Based Treatment for Alcoholism
If you or someone you love needs help with an alcohol problem or addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness Massachusetts offers evidence-based treatment to cater to the individual needs of the patient. What are you waiting for, choose recovery over substance abuse today!