A Letter to the Editor in the Oct. 23 Tomahawk Leader:
Wisconsin is number one!
In 2005, Wisconsin had the highest prevalence of alcohol use in the country, according to the recently released Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile Report. Wisconsin adults had the highest rate of chronic heavy drinking, binge drinking and per capita alcohol consumption in the nation. Wisconsin high school students reported the highest rate of alcohol use and the fifth highest rate of binge drinking.
Yet even more alarming, adolescents in northern Wisconsin drink more than the state average according to the Wisconsin Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. We know that underage drinking leads to increases in family problems, car crashes, high-risk sex, youth violence and countless other problems.
Unfortunately, heavy drinking is embedded in our culture, making it hard to admit that we have a serious problem in our community. A recent poll on the WJFW- TV 12 web site indicated that a 2-1 majority did not believe that we have a binge drinking problem.
We are in denial.
Most people who drink do so in moderation. However, as a therapist and educator in the substance abuse and mental health field for over 25 years, I have seen first-hand the devastating effect of alcoholism on individuals and their families. Like many of you, I have seen it in my own family.
The good news is that alcoholism is a medical disease that can be successfully treated – usually through counseling and Alcoholics Anonymous. Recovery rates are equal to or better than recovery rates from other chronic diseases.
Recovery takes courage and hard work, but it starts with admitting that we have a problem in the first place.