Recovery is personal to many families in the U.S., including the President and his family. His son Hunter has struggled for years with alcohol and other substance use problems and is now in recovery.
The theme for Recovery Month this year, as deemed by President Biden, was ‘Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.’
The President acknowledged the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on American lives, especially those struggling with substance use disorder. He thanked those who are helping to build back the nation and the healthcare providers who continue to deliver essential care and hope to individuals, families, and communities in need. He celebrated the resilience of and courage of the recovery community, saying that they remind that recovery is possible for everyone.
As National Recovery Month concludes, I want to celebrate all of you out there who are in recovery, and let those of you who are not yet in recovery – or who have loved ones with substance abuse disorder – know that you are not alone,” said U.S. President Joe Biden, as per Daily Mail.
U.S. President Joe Biden
Harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry in the U.S. was already grave before the pandemic. The NIAAA recently reported that alcohol kills 95,000 Americans every year. This is higher than deaths caused by other drugs. Alcohol remains the third leading preventable cause of death in the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic made matters even worse for Americans.
- A nationwide survey commissioned by the American Psychological Association in February found that nearly 1 in 4 adults reported using alcohol more this past year to manage their stress.
- A study by RTI International for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that,
- General alcohol use increased by 39% in November 2020 compared to pre-pandemic in February 2020.
- Binge alcohol use increased by 30% during the same time period.
The American Rescue Plan which is a $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill passed in March 2021. It dedicates almost $4 billion to expanding mental health and substance use disorder services.
Expanding services for alcohol and other substance use disorders is urgently needed given the heavy toll. However, alcohol policy improvements are also necessary to better protect people in the U.S. from harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry.
Alcohol policy in the U.S. is a patchwork of policies which differ from state to state. It is proving insufficient to tackle the growing alcohol burden in the country. The Federal government is often bending to the pressure of the alcohol industry which places private profits before public health and puts people in harm’s way.
For instance, the alcohol excise taxes in the U.S. remain insufficient. A study from Boston University School of Public Health, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found inflation has reduced American alcohol tax rates by 70% since 1933. It means that alcohol is becoming more affordable. Despite this, in December 2019, the United States Congress extended the major tax break for the alcohol industry, losing billions of dollars in government revenue – that otherwise could have been invested in healthcare and health promotion.
Added to this, the alcohol industry has been swift and aggressive in pushing for the weakening of alcohol laws during the raging pandemic, leading to swift weakening in state alcohol laws.
The current state of alcohol policy in the U.S. is endangering American lives and increasing health, social and economic costs to society.
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Video: National Recovery Month at the White House
In honor of National Recovery Month and International Recovery Day, President Joe Biden, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Regina LaBelle, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, and others shared messages of hope and encouragement to the millions of Americans in recovery from substance use disorder.
These messages were featured as part of a virtual program, hosted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), with individuals in recovery and leaders from the recovery community. The discussion highlighted the ongoing work to advance equity in recovery, the multiple pathways to recovery, medications for opioid use disorder, the intersection of harm reduction and peer recovery supports services, and the importance of recovery-ready workplaces.