As college students, most of the University of Portland community is well aware of the tendency for young adults to consume alcoholic beverages. While UP is unquestionably not as “liquid-dependent” as many large state institutions, it is undeniable that many within the community still partake. In a recent blog update posted on treatment4addiction.com, several new trends in the realm of alcohol consumption were highlighted, and the most intriguing of said findings are discussed below.
According to a new study published by David Hanson, Americans as a whole are spending a higher percentage of their money in bars and taverns than ever before. In 1982, roughly a quarter (24%) of the total expenditure on alcohol in this country was spent in bars and at restaurants, while the other three quarters (76%) was spent in stores. In 2012, those numbers jumped to 40% spent while out on the town, and only 60% purchased in stores. These numbers indicate to me a culture in which people are more immersed in going out and spending time in the “bar-lifestyle” than they were in the 80’s. Of high interest in this regard is that fact that drinks at bars and restaurants tend to cost on average at least five times what a similar concoction would cost at a liquor store or retailer.
An additional trend regarding alcohol in the United States is what the people are actually buying. While it is difficult to evaluate drink choices across restaurants and bars throughout America, the data for in-store purchases is quite prevalent. In 2012, Americans were spending nearly the same percentage on beer as they were in 1982 (down 1.2%). However, purchases of hard liquor have dropped significantly, falling from 34.6% thirty years ago to a measly 12.6% of the current alcohol expenditure. During the same time, wine sales have jumped roughly 23.5%, indicating a change in people’s tastes. Here at the University, beer is far and away the preferred beverage at parties thrown off campus.
Lastly, on data gleaned from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the percentage of American college freshmen who admit to drinking alcohol has plummeted in recent years, falling to as little as 38% in 2010, down an astonishing 24% from 2006. Likewise, less than half of all American college students, regardless of class status, claim to drink alcohol on a regular basis (49%), and only 12% of those students believe they have an actual problem. The key to understanding this data in my eyes is to realize that many students are simply not upfront about their drinking habits. While its nice to believe things have changed for the better, the true modicum of success lies in the truthfulness of the student’s surveyed.
One thing’s for certain, as alcohol related deaths and arrests continue to destroy families, especially here around the University of Portland community, being open may be key for survival. If you feel that you or someone you know might be struggling with over-consumption, be honest. Do not be afraid to reach out and offer the numbers of people here on campus that can assist, they are in great supply. It’s never too late to help.