You step onto an elevator by yourself and press the button for the 15th floor. A second rider joins you on the second floor, and then a third on floor three. Now, look at your fellow riders and see if you can tell which one has abused alcohol. If they both look innocent, then check out your own reflection. Statistics tell us that one-in-three has abused or been addicted to alcohol.
It's really quite remarkable. If you continue to pick up a single new rider at each floor, by the time you step off the elevator on fifteen, odds are there will be five people for whom alcohol has been a problem. Thank goodness you didn't have to go all the way to the 72nd floor.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center in New York reported the results of a survey involving over 43,000 adults. They found that almost 18% had abused alcohol at some point in their lives, and that over 12% had been dependent on it. The current active rates of abuse and dependence were lower, with just under 5% having abused alcohol within the past year, and slightly less than 4% having been dependent in the last year.
Sadly, of those impacted, fewer than 25% seek treatment. Also of note is the age of those affected - most first exhibit an alcohol problem between the ages of 21 and 22. It certainly points to the dangers inherent in young adulthood.
So, while a return to the days of Eliot Ness may not be necessary, caution is certainly called for. Oh, and, when it comes to elevators - consider taking the stairs...To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about alcohol abuse and addiction, and to find resources to help overcome a problem, see this from About.com, or this from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.