Americans drink more now than when the Prohibition was enacted, a trend that has been increasing for two decades without a clear end in sight.
That is the image painted by federal health statistics, which show increases in per capita alcohol consumption and visits to the emergency room, hospitalizations and deaths related to alcohol consumption.
However, the statistics are not all bad. Drinking among teenagers has declined. And there are indications that some people are taking alcohol seriously, such as the "dry January" movement that circulates on social networks.
But in general, public health experts say the United States still has a problem with drinking.
“Consumption has been rising. The damage (from alcohol) has increased, "said Dr. Tim Naimi, an alcohol researcher at Boston University." And there has been no matching political response. "
In the late 1910s, just before Congress banned the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, each American teenager and adult consumed less than two gallons of alcohol a year, on average.
These days it is about 2.3 gallons, according to federal calculations. That equates to almost 500 drinks, or about nine per week.
Historians say that drinking was heavier in the early 1800s, with estimates that the average US adult. UU. It consumed the equivalent of seven gallons a year in 1830.
The drink decreased when the temperance movement pressed for moderation, abstinence and, later, a national ban. Congress passed the 18th Amendment in 1919, and the Ban entered into force on January 17, 1920, 100 years ago this Friday. It lasted 13 years.
In 1934, one year after the Prohibition was repealed, alcohol consumption per capita was less than a gallon, and has been on the rise since then. The vertex was a period of excessive consumption in the 1970s and 1980s, when consumption per person in the United States was 2.75 gallons.
It fell in the mid-1980s, amid growing attention to drunk driving deaths and after Congress passed a law that raises the drinking age to 21. But it started rising again in the mid-decade. 1990.
"I think people forgot all the problems" with alcohol, "said William Kerr, senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group at the California-based Institute of Public Health.
Excessive drinking is associated with chronic dangers such as liver cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Drinking during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects. Health officials say alcohol is a factor in up to a third of serious falls among the elderly.
It is also a risk for others: driving while intoxicated or alcohol-fueled violence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 88,000 Americans die each year as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, a figure higher than the opioid-related deaths seen in a current drug overdose epidemic.
This month, researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published a lower figure for alcohol-related deaths. They scanned death certificates for two decades to seek mention of alcohol and registered a little less than 73,000 in 2017. Investigators said death certificates may be incomplete, and their number is likely to be a low count.
The most important finding, according to other researchers, was that the number of alcohol-related deaths had doubled since 1999, and the mortality rate had increased by 50%. Some or much of that may be related to the increasingly deadly drugs used in the overdose epidemic, as many people drink while taking drugs, said Aaron White, the study's principal investigator.
About three quarters of alcohol-related deaths are in men. But alcohol consumption among women, particularly excessive alcohol consumption, has been one of the main drivers of the increase in alcohol statistics.
White's study found that the female mortality rate increased by 85%, while the male rate increased by 39%. According to the research, the highest alcohol-related mortality rates for women were between the ages of 55 to 74 But increases were also observed in younger women.
Excessive alcohol consumption (consuming four to five drinks in a two-hour period) is increasing more dramatically among women, according to other research.
The researchers say there has been a change in cultural attitudes towards drinking. Popular Internet memes among stressed mothers call wine "mom's juice" and joke about what is "wine o'clock."
Wine acquired a little halo after some researchers observed that the French had lower rates of heart disease even though they generally consumed high levels of saturated fat. This "French paradox" triggered studies that suggested that drinking a glass or two of red wine could have some heart health benefits.
But more and more, other researchers have opened holes in the hypothesis, arguing that lifestyle, diet and other factors probably deserve much more credit. After rising for 24 years, wine consumption in the United States fell last year, according to research firm IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.
"I think the halo has tilted or fallen," Naimi said.
"But," he added, "for most people who drink alcohol, health is not their main consideration."