OPINION: Alaskans, step away from alcohol misuse

Now that we’ve fully entered the holiday season, I’m encouraging Alaskans to step away from alcohol misuse. In fact: I’m declaring sobriety trendy. With Sober October behind us, Dry January just ahead and more people choosing mocktails over cocktails, I believe we are at the precipice of a significant cultural shift when it comes to drinking responsibly.

For Alaskans, this change can’t come soon enough. Along with damaging our economic prospects, alcohol wrecks lives, families, and communities across the state. In January 2020 the Alaska Mental Health Trust released The Economic Costs of Alcohol Misuse in Alaska which shows that in 2018 the estimated total cost to the state was $2.4 billion. Four years and one pandemic later, things are even less rosy. In a report released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control data, or CDC, there was a 26% rise in alcohol-related deaths from 2019-2020 across the United States. Since the pandemic, heavy drinking has increased approximately 30%.

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