The Known, The Unknown, Addiction and Alcoholism, Los Angeles, and Hand Sanitizer

Los Angeles, Orange County, and California residents face frightening unknowns brought by a new epidemic. The current number of COVID 19 cases remains relatively small though revelations brought by testing and an escalating transmission rate will likely dwarf today’s figures. We are distracted and wholly consumed by a new pandemic. 

Mitigating the spread of the virus is the only thing we can do. If we could only get that hand sanitizer, we’d know that we’re at least doing our part. 

By contrast to this new disease, we know alcoholism as the second leading cause of premature death and disability in Los Angeles County.

Some people are fortunate to awaken when their paths of destruction- addiction and/or alcoholism- descend faster than their personal standards. We act in ways that disgrace and shame even the deteriorating self. Coming to know and own our escalating losses, failures and corruption, we resolve to take new action and seek healing resources. Sources of help abound for achieving remission and recovery.

Without this reckoning and recovery, we find solace in knowing yet denying the severity of our risks as well-practiced addicts/ alcoholics. 

We choose the devil we know over the one we don’t. We’ll even choose the devil we know over the guardian angel we’ve long ignored and forgotten. 

Over five percent or 100,000 US deaths each year are attributed to alcohol misuse. Alcohol is involved in 38% (more than 16,000 fatalities) of fatal crashes.

The seventeenth leading cause of death and the fourth leading cause of accidental death among LA County residents have been drug overdoses.

Alcohol related illness accounted for 1,370 deaths and 27,424 hospitalizations in one year in LA County. Alcohol also causes bodily harm: DUI accidents, falls, suicide, poisonings, and occupational injuries. These harms cause 700 deaths and 27,530 injuries annually in Los Angeles.

The annual economic cost of alcohol use in Los Angeles County is $10.8 billion which includes:


  • Illness ($5.4 billion)
  • Traffic/ DUI Accidents ($2.0 billion)
  • Other Injury ($1.0 billion)
  • Crime ($2.4 billion)


16.2 percent of adults in Los Angeles County report binge drinking (5 or more drinks for men, 4 or more for women) on at least one occasion in the past 30 days. 3.3 percent of adults report heavy drinking (>60 drinks for men and >30 drinks for women in the previous month).

We obsessively focus on the COVID 19 disease we don’t know while we forget about the disease we know too well. Alcoholism and addiction are likely to cause more morbidity in the larger population than will COVID 19.

Recovery is available. 

Hand sanitizer is not.