There’s no question about it: Texas likes to drink, and they sit right alongside the rest of the country in that preference. Despite increasing shifting media and political attention to opioids in the heroin in the wake of thousands of deaths per year, alcohol continues to be the most dominant addiction threat in the country. Each year, nearly 88,000 Americans dies from alcohol-related causes. In 2014, there were nearly 10,000 alcohol-related driving deaths, accounting for 31 percent of overall motor vehicle fatalities nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 19,388 deaths from alcoholic liver disease and 30,722 deaths from alcohol-related health issues, excluding accidents and homicides, in 2015.
Through its ongoing battle with statewide alcohol abuse, Texas has lost many residents, suffered needless yet crushing financial burden, and has seen the deterioration of families and communities. The following figures alcohol’s impact on the state last year alone:
- Drunk driving fatalities (.08 BAC or higher): 1323 representing 0.38% of all total traffic deaths, an 8.5% decrease from last year.
- Alcohol related crash injuries (.01 BAC or higher): 15,687
- Alcohol related crashes (.01 BAC or higher): 25,479
- DUI arrests: 64,971
- DUI convictions: 71,030
- Taxpayer subsidy of drunk driving fatalities: $6.2 billion
Though the state has many strict laws for DUI offenders, legal enforcement is only half of the formula for successful prevention. Community involvement, ancillary education programs and general awareness can go a long way in curbing the problem in our own personal lives as well as in the broader world around us. The victim-count of alcohol-related deaths includes our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues and goes way beyond one person drinking themselves into sickness. Thus, it is incumbent upon all of us, in Texas and the United States, to combat alcohol abuse whenever we see it threaten our family, relationships or communities.