Information about Alcoholism Alcoholic City, U.S.A.

About the problem and statistics involved with alcoholism in the United States.


From: DON ARNOW (Hollywood, Calif.)

Alcoholism is the number-one health problem in the U.S. today. There is, however, a solution, provided we understand that alcoholism is a social malady which affects not only the alcoholic but also his family, business, and community.

To adequately portray the magnitude of the alcoholism problem today, we will look at an imaginary city that contains all the alcoholics in America. This is not a recommended solution, but within the structure of "Alcoholic City, U.S.A." we can see the degree to which all areas of our society are affected and the desperate need for effective rehabilitation.

Alcoholic City is a large city, with a population of 10 million people. This would rank as the second-largest city in the world, with Shanghai, China, number one, and Tokyo, Japan, third. About 75% are men, and 25% are women, with many teenagers and, sadly enough, many sub-teens. At least 95% of the inhabitants of Alcoholic City are employable; the remaining 5% would be the skid row derelict types. About 70% of the city would be classified as "respectable neighborhoods."

A large portion of our country's almost $9 billion in annual liquor store sales is consumed in this city. The average consumption of alcohol per adult in the U.S. per year is 2.6 gallons of straight alcohol. While this average would undoubtedly be higher for Alcoholic City with its 10 million population, at the national average they would consume 26 million gallons of pure alcohol per year. The water content of the consumed beverages would bring the figure into many millions of gallons.

The inhabitants of this city have a high crime rate, amounting to almost 3 million arrests yearly, which means 1/3 of the city is in legal trouble. If we have only one policeman for every 250 people (roughly the average of New York City), we need 40,000 policemen for Alcoholic City. They handle over 9,000 homicides and over 6,000 suicides each year. The residents, who are mostly drivers, injure over 1 million people yearly in auto accidents and 1 1/2 million are disabled. And 28,000 lose their lives because of the problem drinker. This means that our death rate for Alcoholic City comes to 1,053 deaths a day, or 43 every hour.

Now where are moneys allocated in this city? The cost to the taxpayer in just the arrest, trial, and maintenance of jails for problem drinkers is enormous--$1 billion or more yearly. There would be over $3 billion in property damage and medical expenses per year. Another $2 billion goes towards health and welfare services, and over $10 billion would be lost in man-hours to industry, civilian, government, and the military due to the alcoholic's inability to work. The liquor industry is spending close to $300 million per year in advertising in America, whereas the American government is spending only 2/3 that amount ($194 million) on the treatment of alcoholism.

If alcoholics were fully rehabilitated and contributing to society as healthy individuals, $15 billion would be saved in damage, health, and welfare. The increase in earned wages based on the 1972 average wage statistic would be $48 billion, thus making the total possible increase $62 billion.

So here is Alcoholic City, not a pretty picture to behold, but one that must be dealt with. Obviously alcoholism is a great social problem that must be resolved if this country is to continue to expand and offer opportunities for its future generations.

Source: National Alliance on Alcoholism Prevention and Treatment and the Association of Scientologists for Reform, Hollywood, Calif.

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