Tuesday, 02 May 2017 18:25

Made in America: Vices (Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana, Opiates, etc.)

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America's favorite vices are alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, opiates and prescribed stimulants. Americans consume 80 percent of all opiate pain pills, and only Iceland has a higher percentage of marijuana use.  America's favorite vices are alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, opiates and prescribed stimulants. Americans consume 80 percent of all opiate pain pills, and only Iceland has a higher percentage of marijuana use. Adobe Stock image

Americans consume. Whether it’s food, energy, cars, second homes or home furnishings, Americans consume most of the world’s supply. Americans waste 30 to 40 percent of our food supply. America also has an entire city dedicated to sin, so it felt wrong to leave out things Americans obviously don’t need but buy anyway, legal or otherwise. America was built on tobacco after all, and still is a leading producer of tobacco leaves, producing 766.6 million pounds in 2012.

Tobacco

While cigarette use is declining in the United States, e-cigarette use is way up. Disposable e-cigarette sales increased an incredible 320 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who would never consider smoking cigarettes smoke e-cigarettes instead. Smokeless tobacco sales were also up over the same period. Despite smoking-related illness costing the U.S. $300 billion each year, Americans were third in cigarette consumption globally (albeit a distant third to China).

The upside of using an addictive, cancer-causing product, if there is an upside, is If you’re buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in America, then you’re supporting an American company. It’s that easy. Virginia’s Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris and parent company of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, raised $25.43 billion of revenue in 2015. Vector Group, owner of Liggett, headquartered in Durham, N.C., raised $1.6 billion in 2014. Reynolds American, parent company of RJ Reynolds and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, makers of American Spirit cigarettes, raised $8.236 billion in 2013.

American-made e-cigarettes, however, are harder to find. White Cloud, ProVape and Hana Modz are apparently American, but ProVape has closed. If you’re going to smoke or vape, and I nor GCN Live advises you do, smoke or vape American.

Alcohol

Like Scotland and Scotch whisky, and France and champagne, America has places known for alcohol -- most notably bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. While the two are grouped together for international trade reasons, producers of Tennessee whiskey don’t label their product as bourbon, which is why I drink bourbon. I also drink “sparkling wine,” which is champagne made anywhere but France using the exact same method. I can’t afford Scotch.

Like tobacco, alcohol misuse costs Americans a pretty penny -- $249 billion in 2010 according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And Americans are consuming more alcohol than in the past, but aren’t in the top five as far as nations go.

It’s pretty easy to determine whether or not your alcoholic beverage is American-made. Just check the label. Thrillist ranked the top 25 American craft distilleries recently. A few of my favorites -- Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark -- are owned by Japanese company Suntory Holdings, Ltd. I know, it reminds me of Lost in Translation, too, and kind of makes me want to cry, but both are still made in Kentucky, with Maker’s Mark being the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world.

Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice amongst Americans, though, accounting for 85 percent of the alcoholic beverage market. If you’re into microbrews, you’re pretty much in luck if you live in America. You’re not only drinking American, but shopping locally. All that money you spend goes right back into your community’s economy. There’s over 3,000 American breweries and over 2,500 American breweries on this map. You can find one near you here.

If you drink Budweiser, Busch or Miller beer, your money goes to Belgium. Anheuser-Busch owns Miller now. If you drink Coors, your money stays in the U.S. and Canada. If you drink Sam Adams, your money goes to Boston. If you drink Old Milwaukee or Pabst Blue Ribbon, your money goes to California.

Speaking of California, the American wine industry is buoyed by California’s Napa Valley, and 90 percent of all American wine comes from the West Coast. Again, figuring out if your wine is American-made is as easy as reading the label. Wineries aren’t shy about it. Constellation Brands, the largest wine company in the world, started in the Finger Lakes region of New York. If you drink Barefoot, your money goes to California. If you drink Franzia, your money goes to California. Keep in mind that trying wines from different places is like tasting the place itself, so don’t let an American bias stop you from trying an Argentinian Malbec or Italian Chianti. That would be a shame.

Marijuana

Only Icelanders smoke more pot per capita than Americans. A Gallup survey in 2016 found that 13 percent of Americans were using marijuana regularly, up from seven percent in 2013. Marijuana has become a $6.7 billion industry in the United States, according to Forbes.

It’s a pretty good bet the weed you’re smoking is American if you’re smoking it within American borders. The closer you get to a border, the worse chance you have of coming across un-American marijuana, but with the public opinion of marijuana changing and legislation legalizing the drug increases, supply and demand also increase. Business Insider was nice enough to put together a list of the 25 best marijuana dispensaries in every state in which it’s legal, either medically or recreationally.

If you’re in Colorado, visit The Farm in Boulder or Doctor’s Orders in Denver. Each place has a great deal every day. If you happen to be taking a tour of wineries in the Columbia Basin of Washington, stop by Green2Go in Prosser.

Opiates


Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s opiate pain pills. That’s what we call an epidemic, and Donald Trump has put Chris Christie in charge of solving America's’ addiction to pain pills. It’s personal for Christie, too. He lost a longtime friend to an opiate overdose.

The problem with opiates is they’re easily available to those with health insurance, and doctors prescribe them like candy. If marijuana was legal for medical purposes throughout the United States, opiate use would decrease, but until that day comes, Americans will continue fulfilling their cheap, addictive prescriptions.

Purdue Pharma of Connecticut had a lot to do with the opiate epidemic and was ordered to pay $635 million in fines and penalties for misleading the public about the addictive properties of their drug, Oxycontin, which produced $3.1 billion in 2010 revenue alone.

Opiate pain pill pushers have even targeted areas struggling with opiate overdoses. Over 9 million pain pills were funneled to West Virginia by three companies -- McKesson (now German owned), Cardinal Health (Dublin, Ohio) and AmerisourceBergen (Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania).

Cocaine and Other Prescribed Stimulants

That’s right, cocaine can be prescribed by a doctor. America is third in the world when it comes to cocaine consumption and second in consumption of prescribed stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. The U.S. is fifth in consumption of amphetamine-type stimulants, so a lot of Americans are amped up.

Cocaine is expensive and hard to find in most places, but most people can easily get a prescription for ADHD medication and quickly move up the scale from the extended release capsules (which contain beads that are designed to keep people from crushing and snorting them) to the immediate release pills (which are not).

I actually suffer from adult ADHD and take 15 mg of immediate release Adderall most workdays. It has increased my production immensely. I’ve gone from working with 30 tabs open in my web browser to 10 or less, but before you schedule an appointment, check out this list to see if you actually suffer from ADHD symptoms. And when you take the test given by your doctor, take it honestly. In the words of my best friend, “It’s a tool, not a lifestyle.”

If you’re already using a generic stimulant, which most people do, it’s likely produced by New Jersey’s CorePharma.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

America is ranked eighth in consumption of Ecstasy or MDMA. Unless you have a test kit, it’s almost impossible to determine whether your MDMA is pure let alone made in America. If you’re taking Ecstasy you’re likely taking meth as well, so unless you’re one of the people using the drug for PTSD in clinical studies, just steer clear of Ecstasy until it’s legal and regulated (as early as 2021).

So there are the most common vices of Americans. In order to assure your consuming American-made, though, check your labels and do some research into the companies providing the products.

Next up in our Made in America series we’ll look at American-made firearms and compare them to foreign firearms.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live