When the economy is in crisis, alcohol abuse rates shoot up. This is what a new study published in the Health Economics showed with regards to drinking habits of the population during the country’s time of financial difficulties.
Contrary to what a previous study confirmed, high unemployment rates and bankruptcy are not hindrances to alcohol abuse. It, in fact, drives more people to drink to forget about their troubles despite their budget constraints. This attitude results to an increase in the number of cases of binge drinking and driving under the influence.
Dr. Michael T. French, a professor of health economics at the University of Miami, said that their study proves that economic downturn will not help ease the problem of alcohol abuse.
“People are self-medicating with alcohol,” French says. “If you have more free time, you can engage in activities like drinking more frequently than if you were employed. The self-medication and leisure time effect are dominating the income effect.”
French says people who have jobs despite the crisis are still prone to drinking. The stress that comes with job security issues, not only of their own but of other members of the family, can also drive a person to drink.
Dr. Paul Leslie Hokemeyer, an addiction specialist from the Caron Treatment Center in New York, also said that the economic crisis fuels anxiety, even on individuals who are doing well amidst the crisis.
“From the outside, their lives look perfect. They have a job, two cars, own a house, and have kids in private schools, but they are being eaten up by a sense of anxiety and helplessness.”
This gives them the tendency to think, ‘Everything is falling apart, so screw it, I am going to drink,’” Hokemeyer said.
Dr. Hokemeyer suggests other ways to deal with stress brought about by the economic problems, like talking it out with other people who will help a person understand the situation.