Alcohol is killing Americans at a rate not seen in at least 35 years, according to new federal data. Last year, more than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes, including alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis, which is primarily caused by alcohol use.
In 2014, there were 9.6 deaths from these alcohol-induced causes per 100,000 people, an increase of 37 percent since 2002.
This tally of alcohol-induced fatalities excludes deaths from drunk driving, other accidents, and homicides committed under the influence of alcohol. If those numbers were included the annual toll of deaths directly or indirectly caused by alcohol would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In recent years, public health experts have focused extensively on overdose deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers, which have risen rapidly since the early 2000s. But in 2014, more people died from alcohol-induced causes (30,722) than from overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647), according to the CDC.
Philip J. Cook, a Duke University professor who studies alcohol consumption patterns and their effects, notes that per-capita alcohol consumption has been increasing since the late 1990s.
“Since the prevalence of heavy drinking tends to follow closely with per capita consumption, it is likely that one explanation for the growth in alcohol-related deaths is that more people are drinking more,” he wrote in an email.
The number of American adults who drink at least monthly rose by a small but significant amount between 2002 and 2014 — from 54.9 percent to 56.9 percent — according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The change has been especially pronounced among women. The percent of women drinking monthly or more rose from 47.9 in 2002 to 51.9 in 2014. And the percentage of women reporting binge drinking — defined as five or more drinks on at least one occasion — rose from 15.7 to 17.4 percent over the same period.
Cook notes that when you adjust the alcohol fatality rates for age, the increase narrows somewhat. That’s because older Americans are at more risk for alcohol-induced diseases, like cirrhosis, and the American population has gotten older over the past several decades. Once you adjust for age, the increase in alcohol-deaths “could plausibly be accounted for by the growth in per capita consumption,” Cook said.
The heaviest drinkers are at the greatest risk for the alcohol-induced causes of mortality charted above. And some drinkers consume plenty of alcohol indeed. Prior research by Cook indicates that the top 10 percent of American adults consume the lion’s share of alcohol in this country — close to 74 drinks a week on average.
For people who drink less, alcohol’s effects on health are less clear-cut. A large body of research seems to indicate that moderate alcohol consumption — around a drink or two a day — is associated with decreased risk of mortality.
But with alcohol, the line between “moderate use” and “dangerous use” can be a thin one. A recent study quantified the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of common recreational drugs. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine. The reason? The ratio between a toxic dose and a typical dose is extremely narrow with alcohol. If you’re happily buzzed at say, three drinks, three more might make you sick, and three after that may put you in alcohol poisoning territory.
For this reason, some researchers are starting to urge public health officials to focus more on the dangers posed by alcohol, and less on the dangers of less toxic drugs, like marijuana and LSD. One way to rein in problem drinking would be to simply raise federal alcohol taxes, which are currently at historically low levels.
By Christopher Ingraham December 22, 2015
Best Damn Root Beer, hitting stores and taps Monday nationwide, is the first beer from the mega-brewer’s new unit, Best Damn Brewing Co. The new beverage, a sweet ale aged on vanilla beans will weigh in at 5.5% alcohol by volume — that compares to 5% for traditional Budweiser. It’s being positioned as a premium-priced product available in bottles, cans and on tap.
“We like to say this is an easy-drinking hard root beer,” said Kathy Sattler, brand director for Best Damn Brewing Co. and a 20-year veteran who has served as marketing director on global Budweiser and Corona brands. “It smells, it looks and it tastes like the root beer flavor you know and love, but in an adult version.”
As part of the launch, Anheuser-Busch will have Best Damn Root Beer available in bottle, cans and on draft nationwide. Some restaurants and bars will also offer root beer floats with the new beer served in special 20-oz mugs.
Anheuser-Busch’s Best Damn Brewing division has been working on the recipe since 2014. “We are seeing more and more consumers gravitate to different styles and different palates wanting things that are not just the traditional beer taste,” said Rashmi Patel, an Anheuser-Busch vice president within the brewers’ new “Share of Throat” team aimed at creating new alcoholic drinks beyond traditional beers.
Boozy root beers have been a hit this year, with Not Your Father’s Root Beer from Small Town Brewery of Wauconda, Ill., and Coney Island Hard Root Beer out of Brooklyn’s Coney Island Brewing, both infiltrating shelves across the nation.
Not Your Father’s Root Beer (5.9% ABV), which is distributed by Pabst Brewing, was launched nationally this summer; Pabst CEO Eugene Kashper is also part of a group that owns an interest in the brands. So far this year, consumers have spent about $111 million on hard root beers at retail outlets and convenience stores, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm that tracks sales at supermarkets and other retail outlets.
Small Town’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer commands 80% of sales — and is the No. 3 ranked craft beer brand, according to IRI — while Coney Island Hard Root Beer has 18%, IRI says. “Alcoholic root beers quickly emerged to have a significant impact on beer category sales this year,” said IRI’s Dan Wandel. “Based upon the success this year of Not Your Father’s Root Beer and Coney Island Hard Root Beer and the significant number of additional hard soda brands expected in 2016, I would expect to see sales for hard sodas more than double in 2016.”
Also hitting during the summer was Coney Island Hard Root Beer (5.8% ABV), available nationally from Coney Island Brewing, which is part of Samuel Adams’ parent company Boston Beer. Just this month, Coney Island Brewing added two new soda-inspired beers, Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange Cream Ale to roster.
“We launched our Hard Root Beer this summer, and the response was unprecedented,” said Coney Island Brewing’s operations manager Chris Adams. “We knew we would appeal to the tastes of craft beer drinkers if, like with Hard Root Beer, we created hard craft sodas that are both delicious and nostalgic.”
Small Town also has a Not Your Father’s Ginger Ale scheduled to hit 40 states in February.
“I just see this as another product that companies are offering in an attempt to quench the thirst of consumers who are trying new products and trying different styles in a lot of different areas,” said Chris Furnari, business writer for Brewbound.com. “Some folks want a more hoppy bitter offering, some want a sugary sweet offering.”
For now, Anheuser-Busch is brewing the Best Damn Root Beer at its Los Angeles and Cartersville, Ga., breweries. It is likely expand its lineup, too. “We want to make sure that consumers who are experimenting, when they don’t want to have one of our core beers that they were coming to our portfolio,” Patel said.
SABMiller, which is the process of trying to merge with A-B InBev, also has hard soda drinks in the works, Furnari said. So the category could be developing into another arena in which Big Beer brands are competing with craft breweries. Craft beer’s share of the $32.6-billion beer industry is expected to increase from 7.5% in 2010 to 15% this year, according to research firm IBISWorld.
“The other thing we’re curious to see is whether there going to be a craft version of this, something really high-end (or) organic,” Furnari said. “It’s certainly an evolving category. We don’t know where it’s going or how long it’s going to last.”
The best bartenders get a kick out of knowing they’re helping people have a good time – but what if it goes too far? Should bartenders be to blame if someone drinks themselves into injury or illness?
Bartending is a profession dedicated to the art of hospitality, but working with alcohol is not a position of power that should ever be taken lightly.
While the cocktail sector is exploding with boundary-pushing innovation, it is imperative the industry does not become detached from the dangers associated with what is, after all, an intoxicating drug. In numerous countries including the UK, the US and Australia, legislation has been put in place making it illegal to sell alcohol to a person who is obviously drunk, and similarly, to buy an alcoholic drink for someone you know to be drunk.
However, despite the foundation of such laws, questions abound over who is responsible for ensuring the industry is not plagued with a problem of over-consumption. During recent months the media has been awash with a string of high profile tragedies involving the apparent “over-serving” of alcohol, a handful of which have had calamitous consequences.
In April, Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach, Jersey Shore, US, was fined US$500,000 and had its licence revoked for a month after allegedly over-serving alcohol to a woman who later died in a car crash.
The incident unfolded in 2013 after Ashley Chieco, 26, left Martell’s in another person’s car, which collided into an on-coming vehicle killing herself and injuring the other driver, Dana Corrar. The survivor suffered two broken legs, broken ribs and will “never work again, never walk again normally and never be pain free,” according to her lawyer, Paul Edelstein, a personal injury specialist. Martell’s pleaded “no contest” to the charge of serving alcohol to an intoxicated person in exchange for the fine.
“Businesses that profit from the sale of alcohol are well aware of its dangers, particularly when combined with people who then get into vehicles,” Edelstein says. “It is akin to a shop selling bullets and then allowing its customers access to a gun when they leave. Hopefully the attention alone will make a bartender think twice before continuing to serve someone and inquire as to how they are leaving a location that does not provide access to mass transit.”
So when it comes to alcohol consumption where does the responsibility of the bartender start and that of the consumer end? For some, all persons involved – the consumer, bartender and management – have a collective duty for the well-being of both patrons and staff.
Know your limits
“It’s everyone’s job to make sure the guests are happy and safe at the same time,” comments Kate Gerwin, general manager of HSL Hospitality and winner of the Bols Around the World Bartending Championships 2014. “First and foremost obviously the customer should know their own limits, however we all know that is not always the case. Bartenders should make safe service of alcohol a huge priority in day-to-day business and the owner of the bar should take a vested interest in the education of the staff about over-serving and the dangers and consequences.”
But for others, the responsibility rests with those in a managerial position who need to step up to their line of duties. “Inevitably, the responsibility lies with the management chain – they are the licensees,” says British bartender and entrepreneur JJ Goodman, co-founder of the London Cocktail Club. “In the UK we have an inherent history of binge drinking, so customers aren’t very perceptive to being told they’re not allowed another drink. When that sort of situation occurs, someone more senior and experienced needs to come in to handle it and command control as quickly as possible.”
Diffusing the situation
Similar snippets of advice surrounding this irrefutably sensitive subject are echoed throughout the industry. Accusing guests of being drunk is deemed as the biggest faux pas, and a sure fire way to escalate an already testing episode. Avoiding embarrassment, ascertaining a first name basis and gaining the aid and trust of any peers who may be present are all recommended methods when it comes to diffusing any drama involved with this task.
Various initiatives have been instigated to curtail irresponsible service and consumption. At the end of 2014, the British Beer and Pub Association launched a poster campaign in the UK to drive awareness among consumers and on-trade establishments of the law surrounding serving people who are obviously drunk.
“It’s not about getting more prosecutions; it’s about raising awareness,” advises Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association. “It’s important we don’t turn pubs and bars into fortresses – we want to encourage people to go to these socially responsible places. But we need to find a balance between staff responsibility and personal responsibility.”
Source: The Spirits Business
by Melita Kiely
5th February, 2016
Presented to you by www.ServingAlcohol.com
Scientists have shown that a drug that normalizes dopamine levels in the brain can reduce alcohol cravings in people dependent on drink.
The finding was based on two studies, one conducted on people and one on rats. In the human trial, patients who took the experimental drug showed a marked reduction in alcohol craving. A separate animal study suggested that the drug works by acting on dopamine levels.
“It is proof of concept” that alcohol dependency can be treated by targeting the dopamine system, said Pia Steensland, neuroscientist at Karolinska Institute in Sweden and co-author of both studies. “We need to do larger trials” to validate the results.
Current drugs for alcohol dependency aren’t especially effective. The population of patients is genetically diverse, so only certain subgroups benefit. Prescription rates are low. As a result, the need for better medicines is huge.
Alcohol makes the brain’s reward system release more dopamine than normal, triggering a feeling of well-being. But as more alcohol is drunk, the more the reward system is desensitized and the less dopamine is released. Eventually, a person drinks more alcohol not just to feel euphoric, but to attain a state of physical and emotional normality. Thus, addiction sets in.
More than 16 million adults in the U.S. have an alcohol-use disorder and nearly 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institutes of Health. In 2006, alcohol misuse cost the U.S. economy $223.5 billion, the NIH said.
For the human study, published Wednesday in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, scientists recruited 56 Swedish alcohol dependent men and women, who typically would drink the equivalent of a bottle of wine a day.
The participants abstained from drink for at least four days. Half were then given a placebo and half got OSU6162, a drug believed to stabilize dopamine levels. The patients were randomized and neither they nor the researchers knew who was getting the experimental drug and who was getting the placebo.
For two weeks, the participants could drink as much as they liked. On day 15, each person was offered a glass of their favorite drink. According to the study, the OSU group reported not enjoying their first sip as much as the placebo group. After the drink was finished, the OSU group reported a lower craving for alcohol compared to the placebo group.
In addition, those with the poorest impulse control-and thus at greater risk of relapse after a period of abstinence-responded best to the experimental drug.
Both the OSU and placebo groups reported only mild side effects. This is significant because other dopamine-based medicines, such as those used to treat schizophrenia, completely block dopamine and can lead to nasty side-effects, such as nausea.
The rights to OSU6162 are owned by Arvid Carlsson, professor emeritus at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden and co-author of the human study. Dr. Carlsson, 92 years old, shared in the 2000 Nobel Prize for medicine for discovering that dopamine is a transmitter in the brain. His team also developed OSU6162.
To better understand how OSU6162 might work, Dr. Steensland and other researchers did a separate study on rats, also published Wednesday in the journal Addiction Biology. Rats that voluntarily drank alcohol over the course of almost a year had lower dopamine levels than animals that drank no alcohol. When OSU6162 was given to the “alcohol rats,” their dopamine levels returned to normal.
The human trial wasn’t designed to comprehensively evaluate whether the experimental drug could help people drink less. But because of the promising early-stage results, Dr. Steensland and her colleagues now hope to do a longer-term trial involving many more patients.
More than 16 million adults in the U.S. have an alcohol-use disorder
Source: WSJ By Gautam Naik Oct. 14, 2015
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