Everyday our newspapers are filled with stories of meth busts. While meth is a stark reality in Northwest Wisconsin, alcohol is by far the biggest drug problem in our nation, state, and local counties. Let’s face it— we don’t like to talk about it.


Alcohol is our nation’s biggest drug problem: In 2018, the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 14.8 million Americans age 12 and up have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) compared to 8.1 million for all illicit drug disorders combined.


Alcohol is Wisconsin’s biggest drug problem: America’s Health Rankings ranks Wisconsin as the worst excessive drinking state in the entire United States. Excessive drinking was defined as binge drinking (5+ drinks for men, 4+ drinks for women) on one occasion and chronic drinking (15+ drinks/week for men, 8+ drinks/week for women).


Health risks of excessive drinking: Alcohol-related injuries cause hospitalizations, time lost at work, and twice as many deaths compared to alcohol-related diseases. Frequent high alcohol consumption increases your risk for long term chronic diseases and multiple types of cancer.


Economic costs of binge drinking:  The 2018 Burden of Binge Drinking in Wisconsin report explained that binge drinking costs Polk and Burnett county residents $27.5 million with alcohol-related causes contributing to: 782 hospitalizations, 223 people in treatment, 69 crashes, and 32 deaths.


To help alleviate this problem, drink only in moderation. If you drink alcohol, the Centers for Disease Control suggests no more than 1 drink on a single day for women, or 2 drinks for men. Do not drink alcohol if you are pregnant or under age 21.


Need help? Call your 24-Hour Mental Health and AODA Hotline for referrals to local alcohol counseling and support services. Burnett County: 888.636.6655 or Polk County: 888.552.6642.


Submitted by: Stacy Hilde, We Support Recovery

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