alcohol 77959827 Study: Alcohol Abuse Increases As Economy Worsens

Cocktails being served. (credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for LAXART)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas leads the nation in drunk driving crashes and fatalities, with more than 96,000 Texas DUI arrests in 2010.

Now a new study says, as the economy gets worse, so will the problem of drinking driving.

Researchers find that when unemployment and bankruptcy increase people tend to drown their sorrows in alcohol. Experts say it’s an attempt to self-medicate.

“People in a down economy are turning to alcohol to kind of cope with some of the issues that they’re dealing with,” explained Health economist Dr. Michael T. French, from the University of Miami.

French discovered that binge drinking increased with a rise in state unemployment rates. “With greater unemployment people have more leisure time, and with leisure time consuming alcohol is often part of that.”

Along with alcohol abuse, researchers believe drunk driving rates are also on the rise. When it came to drinking and driving French said, “We looked at it by racial categories. We looked at it for males and females, employed, unemployed. Although there were some slight differences across the groups, for the most part the findings endured across all groups.”

For the most part, experts said they were surprised by the results of the study, because it was previously believed that when the economy soured and incomes dropped people had less money to spend on booze.

“Mainly they attributed it to, what we call, an ‘income effect’,” said French. “Namely that people with less income are less likely to purchase all kinds of commodities.”

The study shows even people who have jobs binge more on booze and are more likely to drive drunk when economy’s in the tank.