A twelve pack of Budweiser sits on a shelf for sale at a convenience store in New York City.

A twelve pack of Budweiser sits on a shelf for sale at a convenience store in New York City.

More than 70 percent of American adults drink alcohol.

It’s a rite of passage that can become a life-long habit. And even for those who choose not to imbibe, drinking can feel like a quintessential part of adulthood.

But for some Americans, those habits can slip from occasional and innocuous to frequent and potentially fatal.

USA Today‘s Jayne O’Donnell has reported on the dangers of alcohol consumption for years. For her, it’s not just a health policy story. Here’s part of what she wrote last year about her early struggles with alcoholism:

For me, fortunately, dashing my dreams of an on-air television and print journalism career became my “bottom.” It surprised even me that I would drink all through Super Bowl Sunday, stopping only to sleep about an hour before showing up for a 6 a.m. TV spot the next day, Jan. 27, 1992. And that’s despite the fact I was drinking about two bottles of wine a night in the 10 years since college.

[…] Until I started researching the dramatically increasing deaths due to alcohol, I thought society’s drinking problem had changed along with my own. After all, people seemed far more focused on working out and eating healthy, and there is so much more attention on drunken driving. Plus, the opioid epidemic is getting all the attention now, even though it’s all the same disease – addiction. Having to alternate liquor stores and justify bulk wine purchases seemed so last decade.

Was I ever wrong.

We listen back to your calls and comments on how your life has changed since you took your first drink.

Guests

  • Anna Sale Host, the "Death, Sex and Money" podcast from WYNC;@annasale
  • Jayne O'Donnell Health policy reporter, USA Today; @JayneODonnell

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