Drinking

Texans Would Trade Three Years of Life to Keep Drinking Liquor, Survey Says

Texans love a good party.
Texans love a good party. Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash
From Tito’s to Ranch Water, Texans sure do love to drink — so much so that they’d be willing to shave years off their lives to keep partying.

The average Lone Star State resident would rather give up three years of their life than quit drinking alcohol, according to a 3,700-person survey by Alcohol.org, which provides resources for alcohol addiction treatment.

Around 30% of survey respondents say they disregard studies that detail the health risks associated with alcohol consumption. And more than a third would also avoid caffeine for the rest of their life if it meant that they could still drink alcohol.

Dietary guidelines in the U.S. recommend limiting intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.


Yet recent research has suggested that there’s no such thing as a “safe amount” of alcohol for the brain. While the study of 25,000 people has not yet been peer-reviewed, it indicates that brain volume decreases as alcohol consumption increases.

“There’s no threshold drinking for harm — any alcohol is worse,” the study’s lead author told The Guardian. “Pretty much the whole brain seems to be affected — not just specific areas, as previously thought.”

While scientists say alcohol is bad for one’s health, many people believe the opposite, according to Alcohol.org. Around 31% of folks wrongly think that alcohol can help to raise life expectancy and 15% say it can stave off the common cold. (If only.)

Meanwhile, 37% of survey respondents thought that craft beer is healthier than run-of-the-mill brews, even though they often have high ABVs and more calories.

"Drinking alcohol to cope can make problems worse." – Dr. George Koob

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The coronavirus pandemic has also shaped how often people imbibe, with around 1 in 5 drinking heavily to deal with COVID-related stress, according to USA Today.


Conducted earlier this spring, one survey indicates that 1,003 of U.S. adults out of the 6,006 polled reported “heavy drinking,” which is defined as having two heavy drinking days in a week at least two times over the past month. Other studies have suggested that the pandemic has pushed Americans to purchase more booze and drink more regularly.

In addition to cancer, alcohol abuse can lead to a higher chance of stroke and liver and heart disease, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It can also lower one’s immune response to the novel coronavirus.

On top of that, inflammation can occur when alcohol is misused, according to a blog post by NIAAA Director Dr. George Koob. Alcohol abuse could also lead to an increased risk of respiratory illness and more severe COVID-19 infections.

This isn’t the first widescale disaster that has heightened people’s thirst for spirits: Increased anxiety from Hurricane Katrina and Sept. 11 also led to spikes in alcohol consumption, Koob wrote. For some, pandemic-induced social isolation exacerbates depression and anxiety, which could, in turn, encourage heavier drinking. Unemployment stress is another leading cause.

Booze can temporarily relieve anxiety, but it's sure to return — and worsen — when the alcohol wears off.

“Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can cause adaptations in the brain that intensify the stress response,” Koob wrote. “As a result, drinking alcohol to cope can make problems worse and one may end up drinking to fix the problem that alcohol caused.”

Buzzkill.
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter