A close view of a man drinking a dark brown beer.

One in eight American adults suffers from alcoholism, according to a study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry this month. The study found that rates of high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder have increased substantially since 2001 and constitute a public health crisis. We discuss what may be driving Americans to drink more, what treatments are most effective and who’s most at risk.

Guests:

Bridget Grant, senior epidemiologist, National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism; study author

Anna Lembke, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University Medical Center

Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director and CEO, Alcohol Justice

Rise in High-Risk Drinking a Public Health Crisis, New Study Finds 16 August,2017Michael Krasny

  • EIDALM

    There is no totally safe low limit of alcohol consumption as even tiny amount can cause damage to the human body and can impair judgement and decision making specially while driving an automobile, but heavy drinking will cause irreversible damage to vital organs in the body specially the liver, pancreatitis, the brain,even your digestive system and muscles, all can lead to extremely serious diseases including liver cirrhosis, cancer, heart disease, memory loss and death, In the year 2016 10265 people will killed in drunk driving related accidents and near three as many were injured, add to that the thousands of death during domestic violence committed by drunk spouses on each others and their family….That all says a lot please quit while you are ahead to save you family, the society, and even yourself…..Please do.

  • EIDALM

    Some years ago my car was rear ended by a speeding drunk driver on 880 freeway in Fremont, In near totally lost control of my car, but I was barely able to slowdown and pulled to the shoulder of the road, the other driver after rear ended my car crashed on the side of the road and was arrested by the highway patrolmen, later on I learned that his alcohol lever was 0.19% that means he was very drunk as the limit for drunk driving in California is 0.08%.

  • Kate

    I quit drinking a few years ago for health reasons – I just feel healthier and happier without alcohol.
    It is amazing to me how poorly people react to this. The pressure to drink is extreme. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for alcoholics to handle their friends and family and coworkers cajoling them to “go ahead, just have one.” I was recently out to eat with colleagues and when I ordered a ginger ale, I endured their commentary for a good 15 minutes. They couldn’t seem to understand that no, I am not pregnant, I’m not a Mormon, and I’m not a recovering alcoholic, I am just a person who prefers not to drink.
    Our cultural attitude toward alcohol is extremely dysfunctional.

    • Another Mike

      Plain water or mineral water is always an appropriate beverage to accompany meals. Were they commenting on your not drinking alcohol, or for drinking soda pop?

      • Kate

        About not drinking alcohol, which I thought was pretty obvious given the topic of the show?

        • Another Mike

          I haven’t been in a social situation where people were questioned for not drinking alcohol since college. So I was surprised that this was still going on.

    • geraldfnord

      My sympathies: I have been on the end of ‘men drink’ pressure from a relative, as I don’t do that, not liking the taste or the effects. I think that though we are too puritanical about alcohol that doesn’t mean we can’t also be too libertine—I’d rather see more teens drinking wine at supoer with their families but consider pressuring their peers to drink distasteful.

  • Mason Gibb

    It should not be overlooked that NPR’s corporate donors in recent years have included a hard liquor distillery and two or more breweries. KQED is likely sponsored by at least one vineyard, which seems to “donate” wine-tasting tours during fund drives as a tax write-off. Considering the number of possible corporate donors, it is baffling that NPR and affiliate stations would hawk alcohol. It would be a miracle if research like this began conversations on what sponsors are appropriate for what is supposedly listener-funded radio.

    • Robert Thomas

      The enormous influence of vintners and distilleries over just about every organ of public broadcasting is palpable.

      A while back, I made a tic mark in some notes for every “news” segment I heard on programs broadcast on KQED. The winer by far was PRI, whose The World program racked up seven segments about breweries and five about distilleries over the period – about a year. Coming in second was APM’s Marketplace, which broadcast nine alcohol industry segments that I heard in approximately twelve months. NPR’s various programs supplied seven, that I counted. Obviously, I may have missed some. I never made a search through their websites or anything like that. I wish I’d kept specific URLs but I didn’t.

  • geraldfnord

    Through millenia of lives harder than most of us reading here can begin to viscerally understand (fortunately), wine and beer have comforted us and been dependably safe potable liquids. There were drunkards, of course, but most people were limited by the level of alcohol concentration that will kill yeast and by near-universal poverty.

    (There was no hard liquor for most of that period, so there has been no genetic adaptation to it. I wish that the American temperance movement had stuck to its original guns trying to discourage hard liquor—as late as Prohibition some of the legislators who voted for it expressed consternation that the Volstead Act banned wine and beer.)

    In any event, I think some in this forum go too far: we and alcohol have had a net-productive relationship for a very long time, it can still be so, and (as is the case with
    marijuana, opiates, psychedelics, internet commenting, government, property, and religion) trying to get rid of it entirely risks treating its more and less malign manifestations equally and actually encouraging the worse.

  • William – SF

    I’ve read that DJT doesn’t drink because his older brother Freddy did and died an alcoholic at age 43 – unlikely to be the way their dad Fred Sr. and Donnie treated Freddy, or that Freddy may have been, ahem, a human being. Unlikely, prolly.

    Trump also said that, at 69, he had grown to appreciate his brother’s free spirit. “He would have been an amazing peacemaker if he didn’t have the problem, because everybody loved him,” he said. “He’s like the opposite of me.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/us/politics/for-donald-trump-lessons-from-a-brothers-suffering.html
    Is a dedication to delusion, division, and an addiction to praise and self-aggrandizement a better life?

    • Curious

      Barry’s father was an alcoholic, wife-beater, dead beat dad and a bigamist. Explains why Barry is a pothead and coke fiend.

  • Noelle

    Maybe there’s been more stress in this country since 9/11/2001? There’s always been binge drinking, especially among college students. Alcohol drinking is very imbedded in our culture(see how many bars there are, beer and wine festivals, wine country winery tour industry, to name a few). Prohibition did not work, but we still need to educate everyone about the health effects.

  • William – SF

    Fox News use disorder.
    Reducing taxes on the wealthy while decrying the national debt, Republican illogic use disorder.

  • Ben Rawner

    Have your guests looked at cities like NY or Chicago before making wild claims that later drinking hours lead to alcohol addiction? There are a myriad of issues at play here and why should my responsible drinking be limited because others can’t manage their intake? There are many studies showing the benefit of alcohol consumption at low levels.

  • Ginny Bahr

    I’ve been working on the front line trenches as a psychotherapist supporting addicts and alcoholics get into recovery for the last 20 years. I am now offering a course through the College of Marin’s Community Education department called Demystifying Addiction and Addiction Treatment. It begins on August 29 and runs 5 Tuesday nights. A second offering will start 10/24. We will further discuss these topics and learn about the services available locally for those needing help or a family plan to get help.

  • Curious

    This is why we need to import more illegals from down south.

    • Noelle

      tequila? Corona beer?

      • Curious

        Binge drinkers.

  • Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky

    I speak as a former certified alcohol counselor in the state of Oregon. Your speakers are promoting the idea that all folks are the same when it comes to alcohol addiction, and that it is a psychological problem. What about the inherited aspect of differentiated liver enzymes, which make some people more susceptible to addiction? And, inmy understanding, alcoholics are able to abstain, but what they can’t do is drink moderately.

  • InabaML

    Awareness is great, but I see trends in the opposite direction. Alcohol consumption has become part of any arts, sports or entertainment event. In an attempt to cater to younger audiences alcohol is consumed during ballet performances rather than at intermission. Movies theaters are adding bars and consumption during movies. Kids birthday parties are adult drinking events, etc., etc., etc. I fear its a battle we have already lost. Young women are especially at risk as women develop problems with alcohol more easily than males due to their physiology. We need to face the fact that things changed when the word “party” became a verb.

  • Another Mike

    The speaker’s use of the word “use” instead of drink, is telling.
    But she’s probably correct — my grandfather, who drank two beers or more every day of his life, lived only to be 93.

  • Cal Peternell

    How do alcoholism rates compare in places like Germany, France, and Italy where beer and wine is so tied to culture and food?

    • Noelle

      Beer is cheap in Germany, I hear.

      • Another Mike

        Nothing is cheap in Germany, but beer tends to be the cheapest drink there. Wine is the cheapest in Italy, and Coca-Cola is the cheapest in America.

  • Another Mike

    I wonder if Professor Krasny will ask his guests to use some wine after the show.

  • Another Mike

    I remember running into a Russian co-worker in the liquor store. He was buying a bottle of vodka, to split with a colleague during the Warriors game that night.

  • nitrab

    As a parent in San Francisco, I am alarmed at the amount of excessive drinking I see in my parent community and around children. We are not teetotalers on our house, but what I see my peers doing to socialize and unwind is shocking.

  • Another Mike

    Are observant Muslims healthier than other Americans?

    • Noelle

      I know 7th Day Adventists are.

      • Another Mike

        Seventh-Day Adventists tend to be vegetarians as well, which provides a confounding variable.

  • betty

    Could reduction in taxes be related to reduction in prices?

    • Another Mike

      Beer was first taxed at $5 a barrel, to fund the Civil War. That was real money back then.

  • Sar Wash

    There is very strong evidence that moderate alcohol consumption has positive health effects.

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor