Cheers! Proost! Santé! Salud!

Washing down some cold ones is an international pastime, but people around the world are drinking less alcohol for the first time since 2001, MarketWatch reported. Except for Americans, that is.

According to Euromonitor International, a market research firm, consumption fell from 249.7 billion liters in 2014 to 248 billion liters in 2015. (That’s a 0.7% decrease.)  Global alcohol consumption has been steadily rising ever since Euromonitor International began tracking market trends in 2001, so this is an unprecedented dip.

But there’s some good news for the beer and spirits industry, at least: North Americans are still boozing it up. (Good job, ‘merica!) In 2015, the continent bought 33.8 billion liters of alcohol, 700 million more liters than in 2014. 

Small batch brew-loving hipsters (and everyone else who likes fancy brewskis) might have something to do with it, too. The strong North American economy and the popularity of craft beer and microbreweries have given sales a bump, analyst Spiros Malandrakis told MarketWatch.

The World Is Drinking Less Alcohol, but Fear Not, America's Picking up the Slack

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Source: Saturday Night Live/Giphy

Other than suds, what else quenches America’s thirst? Beer is far and away the beverage of choice for Americans, but 34% of Americans who drink say they prefer sipping wine, and 21% drink liquor most often, Gallup reported in 2015.

The World Is Drinking Less Alcohol, but Fear Not, America's Picking up the Slack

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Data from Gallup shows Americans prefer beer over other types of alcohol

Mo’ money, mo’ drinking: No matter the country, economic strength has a strong influence on alcohol sales. MarketWatch reported that the struggling economies in China and Brazil led to less alcohol consumption in 2015. Similarly, U.S. consumption fell during the 2008 to 2009 recession, a Harvard School of Public Health study showed. 

But in an ironic twist, wild nights might not be so great for the economy. A 2015 reportfrom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that binge drinking, aka consuming four to five drinks in a matter of two hours, cost the U.S. economy $250 billion in 2010 due to lost productivity and alcohol-fueled crimes.

So… better rethink that last tequila shot. For your future self, and for your country.



Can You Trust the News?

Real News That Matters

Independent Media

Tells Us the Truth

In virtually all aspects of life, we are influenced consciously or subconsciously by mainstream media messages. Today, six media giants—Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, Twenty-First Century Fox, Time Warner, Viacom and DirecTV—control the vast majority of what we watch on TV and in movies, listen to on the radio and read in books, newspapers and magazines. According to Ben Bagdikian, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The New Media Monopoly, this handful of conglomerates form a cartel that wields enough influence to affect U.S. politics and define social values.

Thirty years ago, before many mergers and acquisitions, 50 corporations owned nearly all of American media. Today’s infotainment and rhetoric, misrepresented as news, is leading millions to conclude that these colossal powers do not exist to objectively report the truth.

Mainstream Media’s True Colors

Although a recent Gallup Poll reflects Americans’ lack of trust in mainstream media’s reporting of news fully, fairly and accurately, fair reporting was what HarperCollins, a prominent publisher, expected upon the 2016 release of New York City holistic psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan’s A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. They were shocked when the book was boycotted.

The New York Times, Dr. Oz and Good Morning America refused to schedule author interviews or write book reviews. There wasn’t a whisper anywhere on mainstream media about my evidenced-based book on how women can holistically recover from depression without a single prescription. HarperCollins was baffled. I was their first credentialed author who spoke out against pharmaceuticals,” says Brogan.

So Brogan turned to independent outlets, including print, online and social media, her own website, newsletter lists and word-of-mouth. Her work soon broke through into three of the top bestselling book lists: USA Today,Publisher’s Weekly and The New York Times. That example serves as clear proof of the importance and power of independent media to furnish the public helpful and in-depth information on wide-ranging topics that mainstream broadcast media typically only cover in 30- to 60-second blurbs or not at all.

We in America are the best entertained and least informed society in the world.
~Neil Postman, media theorist and educator

Dr. Mark Hyman, chair of the Institute of Functional Medicine and director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, learned Brogan’s lesson early on. “Independent media have been crucial in disseminating my life’s work. Given the misinformation being spread by regular news and government channels about weight and health, we deserve to hear the truth about what’s in our food, toxins in our environment and how we can truly heal our bodies,” says Hyman, a nine-time bestselling author.

Independent Voices

Today’s independent media landscape shifts at warp speed. With 24/7 Internet access to websites, both groundbreaking journalism and grassroots perspectives appear in original articles and blogs. Outlets include independent online radio, TV shows, newspapers, filmmakers and “citizen journalists” armed with smart phones instantly transmitting images and updates via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. From a growing recognition that such media play a vital role in shaping a more informed and engaged citizenry, more attention is again being paid to the need for real news that matters. Breaking the reign of junk food news generators is the mission of, a media research program at California’s Sonoma State University.

Billions of dollars are spent annually on webinars, podcasts and e-books exploring health and healing, self-help, spiritual enlightenment and creativity, indicating a reading audience with a hunger for deeper wisdom. Since 1973, New Dimensions Radio, co-founded and hosted by Justine Willis Toms, has featured many of the world’s most respected wisdom keepers. “Guests exclaim how refreshing it is to speak in-depth and at length. Mainstream, commercially based media consistently present sound bites on how things are breaking down and not working, without opening thought to constructive visions for a future that benefits all life and the planet,” says Toms.

“Independent media have broken away from dependence on the moneyed interests holding tight reins on the news and information they publish. Because we’re listener-supported, public radio is free to explore a wide range of timely and timeless topics,” he says.

We need our media to be candid, fierce, raw and searingly truthful about the world in which we live, so that we might propel ourselves and humanity, into a brighter future for all.
~Lauren Walker, editor,

Leaning away from one-sided views gives independent media space to expand people’s perspectives and positive expectations for the future. The seven-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Christian Science Monitorinternational news organization was established in Boston over a century ago to till human thought and thereby improve human lives via an uplifted journalistic standard. “Its quiet insistence for human rights and against tyranny; for generosity and against selfishness; for intelligence, charity, courage, integrity and most of all, for progress and hope—surely that has helped,” remarks John Yemma, current columnist and former editor.

“We work to uncover where progress is occurring, even though headlines proclaim the contrary. There are always two sides to a story,” says Susan Hackney, a senior director with the Monitor, which consistently resists the sensational in favor of the meaningful.

Independent Media News

Magazines such as Natural Awakenings, Mother Jones,The Optimist and Yes! are likewise stirring up conversations on meaningful issues via larger perspectives with a focus on tangible solutions. They address such areas as the damaging health and environmental effects of genetically engineered food, championed by Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology.

“Europe could kick genetically modified ingredients (GMO) out of their food supply because their mainstream media covered the health dangers, while U.S. mainstream media ignored them and kept Americans in the dark. Independent media in the U.S. enable democracy and consumer-inspired transformations of all kinds. Knowledge has organizing power,” advises Smith.

Success Stories

With Fran Korten at its helm, the ad-free, subscription-supported, nonprofit Yes! is helping to reframe our biggest issues. “Mainstream media, dependent upon advertisers that would have us believe that we can buy happiness, celebrate stories of the rich and powerful, leaving everyone else feeling small and powerless. Independents can help resist such ways of seeing the world, help people see a different path to success and happiness and perceive themselves as change agents. Together, we share engaging stories of how people are carving out new ways of living that hold the hope of a world more in balance with the living Earth and where everyone’s inherent worth and dignity are recognized,” says Korten.

Allan Savory, founder of the Savory Institute and originator of a holistic land management systems approach to recover and preserve sustainable resources, underscores the need for change leaders and independent thinkers. “As we ponder who they might be, we realize it’s not those that discover new, counterintuitive insights, but those that spread the knowledge. The groundbreakers are pioneers like writers, poets, artists, speakers and social networkers. After 50 years of trying to understand the intense institutional resistance to and ridiculing of my work of managing complexity in a simple manner, holistic management is now quickly spreading globally. This is only due to social networking, independent writers and my TED talk that went viral,” observes Savory.

When we cover war and peace, we need media that are not brought to us by the weapons manufacturers. When we cover climate change, we are not brought to you by the oil, gas and nuclear companies. When we cover health care, we are not brought to you by the insurance industry or drug companies. We are brought to you by listeners, viewers and readers deeply committed to independent information—that’s what’s critical.
~Amy Goodman, host and co-founder, Democracy Now news hour

Laurie McCammon, change leader and author of Enough! How to Liberate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word, contracted with independent publisher Red Wheel Weiser to get her message out. “It’s been building awareness of forbidden knowledge—that we each have unrealized potential to affect reality by changing our thoughts. We can nurture a shift in global culture away from an existing way of life that has bred fear, lack and a belief in scarcity,” explains McCammon.

She suggests that to preview a new vision of, “I am enough and have enough,” and, “We are enough and have enough,” we should look to the fertile fringes; small communities of intentional and conscious people actively reinventing society. “Look at what independent media are reporting on; as well as their unprecedented use of new terms such as organic, wellness, sustainability, permaculture, transition town, sharing economy, social responsibility, biomimicry and the butterfly effect,” says McCammon.

The existing worldview, with all of its core assumptions and rules, aims to restrain awakening individual and collective consciousness. McCammon observes, “As long as the ‘old story’ was told repeatedly by mainstream media with conviction, it could command our attention and make us doubt our inner story. Trusting that the outer world had our own best interests in mind meant that there was no need to turn within. This is changing. Thanks to farseeing, courageous and strong enough independent media, there’s been an overturning to a more wholesome story of mind-body-spirit, abundance, innovation, collaboration and cooperation.”

Mainstream and independent media coexist like two sides of a coin. Mainstream media’s talking heads tell us how to act and think while independent media invite us to engage, educate and think for ourselves, dig deeper and take action. Without independent media, we would know little about the benefits of the ever-evolving grassroots movement of holistic, alternative, complementary, integrative and functional medicine. Nor would we know the truth about climate change; the health advantages of plant-based diets and community gardens; food deserts and nutrition-related illnesses; the prevalence of environmental toxins; signs of spiritual progress; alternative education; and the benefits of eco-villages to people and the planet.

Real News That Matters

Elizabeth Vargas – The Whole Story

Battle With Alcohol

and Her Road

to Recovery

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Today, when Elizabeth Vargas walks down the streets of New York City on a warm evening, passing wine bars filled with people enjoying glasses of wine, it’s a very different experience for her than it once was.

“I don’t look at them and think, ‘I want one,’” Vargas said. “But I look at them and I think, ‘I miss that.’ I miss that time when, you know, it felt so innocent and romantic. But that’s just me romanticizing something that turned out to be really monstrous for me.”

The veteran ABC News network anchor sat down with Diane Sawyer for a special edition of ABC News “20/20” to talk for the first time about her long struggle with alcoholism and anxiety, and her recovery process.

In the interview and in her new book, “Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction,” to be released on Tuesday, Vargas shares that she suffered repeated relapses, was almost fired from ABC News and that her marriage to singer-songwriter, Marc Cohn, ended in no small part because of her drinking.

Vargas, 54, who says she hit rock bottom two years ago, knows it’s an act of grace that she’s alive today. There was one occasion, she said, when her blood alcohol level was at .4 – a lethal amount.

“And even that didn’t scare me into stopping,” Vargas said.

“When you’re in the cycle of this disease though, it doesn’t matter how much you have or how little you have, I—it didn’t matter,” she continued. “It leveled me. It knocked me flat on my butt. I lost sight of everything.”

Throughout her 30-year career, Vargas has been known for her strong reporting around the world, her tough interviews and her steadiness during breaking news live coverage. On Sept. 11, 2001, it was Vargas who took over the breaking news coverage from ABC News anchorPeter Jennings.

In addition to “20/20,” Vargas has also been a frequent co-host on “Good Morning America.”

In 2016 alone, Vargas anchored breaking news coverage of the Orlando nightclub shooting, the shooting ambush in Dallas, the death of pop star Prince and the passing of boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

For years, Vargas says she drank socially, like anyone else, and was able to control it until she hit rock bottom.

“There are days when you wake up and you feel so horrible that the only thing that will make you feel better is more alcohol,” she said. “That’s when you’re in the death spin.”

This year, more than 30 million Americans are locked into a battle with alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an arm of the National Institutes of Health.

The hardest part, Vargas said, was knowing that her alcoholism affected her two sons, Zachary, 13, and Sam, 10.

“I don’t know if I will ever forgive myself for hurting them with my drinking, ever,” she said.

Vargas says she never physically endangered her kids with her drinking and never drove under the influence.

“But let me just say something,” she said. “Because I didn’t physically endanger my children doesn’t mean I didn’t devastate them or put them in danger emotionally or psychologically.”

Vargas grew up in a military family and moved to 14 homes, nine Army bases and eight schools as a child. When she was little, she said she suffered from anxiety daily, even panic attacks, but she learned to hide them. Her struggle with that crushing insecurity continued when she started out as a local reporter out West.

“Because I am basically so insecure and anxious and afraid I never, ever, in my life learned to reach out for help, ever,” Vargas said.

Studies show that nearly 63 percent of women in trouble with alcohol say they are also fighting anxiety. But when she was starting out, Vargas said she didn’t understand then that the disease of alcoholism could slowly take over and threaten her life.

“There’s a real temptation… to whitewash what you did, ‘It wasn’t as bad as everybody says,’ or ‘it wasn’t as bad as I remember,’” Vargas said. “And for better or for worse, I have recordings of myself on TV and audio recordings that remind me how bad it was.”

Vargas said her drinking began after she got her first job and the news team would head out to the local bar after work.

“It was like, ‘I finally feel relaxed,’” Vargas said. “All my insecurities would sort of fade back.”

She finally found someone to confide in about her insecurities when she married Marc Cohn, best known for his song, “Walking in Memphis,” in 2002. She said he used to calm her by singing her to sleep. But even before they were married, Vargas said he noticed her drinking at night.

“He thought I drank too much,” she said. “I remember he was angry when he said it, and grabbing my arm and saying, ‘You have a problem with alcohol,’ and that just made me really mad.”

She said his words got her attention and for several years, she did control her drinking. She gave birth to their two sons and was caring for them while continuing to work – once even through a miscarriage.

After Peter Jennings died from complications of lung cancer on Aug. 7, 2005, Vargas and ABC’s Bob Woodruff were named co-anchors of “World News Tonight.” But 27 days later, Woodruff was severely wounded by an IED in Iraq.

“It was devastating. Devastating to everybody who worked there,” Vargas said. “I felt like I was in a hurricane of life.”

Four months later, she was replaced by senior anchor Charlie Gibson.

“I was demoted,” she said. “No sugarcoating it.” The self-doubt mixed with anger and fear came roaring in.

By 2009, Vargas said she felt her husband pulling away. She grew resentful, the exhaustion of all that travel while she was still trying to be a good mom and being the big financial responsibility for the family, and she said wine became her consolation. Eventually, she said she began keeping the amount she was drinking a secret.

“I would stop on my way home work, you know, and have a glass of wine or two at a bar,” Vargas said. “Alone, feeling really pathetic, you know I would actually pretend to talk to someone on my phone.”

When she would head home, she said she would pop a couple of Altoids and hope that she wasn’t “breathing white wine fumes” when she greeted the kids.

But like millions of other people, Vargas said she didn’t think she had a drinking problem because she didn’t drink all the time and she had no family history of alcoholism. As time went on, she said her glasses of wine at night became entire bottles and her husband noticed.

“It made all the real problems we needed to discuss and work through frivolous in comparison,” Vargas said. “You know, ’What do you want to talk about? Why don’t you ask me about how my day is?’ Or ‘Why don’t you support me more?’ when ‘why are you drinking two bottles of chardonnay every night?’ You know? I’ve just gone and changed the narrative in a pretty dramatic and destructive way.”

At one point Vargas said she even hid bottles of wine under her bathroom sink.

“Looking at myself in the mirror thinking, ‘This is who I am, sneaking into my own bathroom to gulp down from my toothpaste cup a half cup of wine so I can get through another hour feeling good,’” she said.

She said she fell into a pattern of secret drinking and then rewarding herself by binging on vacation. Her sister Aimie Vargas had no idea how much she was drinking until they took a trip together with their kids in summer 2011.

“It was in the middle of the afternoon and she was drunk,” Aimie Vargas said. “She told me that she drank too much because she was so unhappy.”

When Aimie tried to intervene, Elizabeth said she wasn’t an alcoholic, just having a rough time. Then a year later, in 2012, she was on another family vacation with Marc and the boys in Florida.

“That was our big vacation and my idea of a vacation was to empty the minibar by drinking everything in it,” Vargas said.

Marc was so worried about her, he arranged for a nurse to secretly come to the hotel room and give her IV re-hydration fluids. At one point, she said her son Sam came in to the room.

“I was drinking and sleeping and I do vividly remember one afternoon Sam standing by my head in the bed saying, ‘Mommy, when are you going to get up,’” Vargas said. “And I remember I could smell the sunscreen and I could feel the heat from his little body because he had just come in from the beach.”

“I wouldn’t give a nanosecond’s worth of thought to die for my children, to kill for my children,” she continued. “But I couldn’t stop drinking for my children.”

After that 2012 Florida vacation, Vargas decided to make a secret visit to her first rehab facility, telling her ABC News bosses she had a medical issue. The minimum stay at these facilities is usually 30 days, but Vargas said she was “so deluded and in denial” that she convinced the rehab facility to let her come for just two weeks.

Doctors say heavy drinking over time can change the structure of the brain and the cells in your body. The chemical receptors start to demand more alcohol to feel normal and that the first three months of attempted sobriety are the most dangerous for relapse.

A few weeks after she left rehab, Vargas said she started drinking again. She was never drinking on live TV at ABC News, but there were rare occasions when she would drink before interviews and it affected her performance. Vargas said she drank to calm her nerves, but one instance led to a terrifying blackout.

“There was one occasion on a Saturday,” she said. “I woke up that morning and I was feeling horrible, that shaky, horrible, fluttery heart… and I was on my way to the shoot on Columbus Avenue [in New York City] and I saw a liquor store.”

On her way to the interview, Vargas said she had the car stop, she bought wine and drank some of the bottle before she started taping. Afterwards, Vargas said she slipped into a nearby room and drank again. When she got in the car to be driven home, she said she the last thing she remembers is fastening her seatbelt. Her next memory was waking up in the emergency room.

“I don’t know where I went. I don’t know what I did. I don’t know what I drank,” Vargas said. “I drank enough to be at a lethal blood alcohol level.”

Since that day, Vargas has pieced together what happened. She now knows she wandered by Riverside Park in New York City and a stranger driving by saw her and stopped to help.

“I was able to tell her my address,” Vargas said. “She said she saw some men nearby that she didn’t like the look of who might have been, at that point, probably seeing me as a vulnerable person and she brought back here [home]. And at that point I was apparently unconscious.”

Her husband called 911 while their kids remained upstairs unaware that their mother was unconscious in the lobby of their apartment building.

After her near-lethal blackout in 2012, Vargas told the president of ABC News that she needed time off to confront her addiction.

“I was too embarrassed to him that it was just alcohol because I thought it was so unfeminine, like, to be a drunk,” she said. “Even now I have a hard time saying that word so I told him alcohol and Ambien.”

With the support of ABC, Vargas went to rehab for a full month.

At least 2,300 Americans die every year from alcohol poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control, though some experts believe that number is underreported.

On average, an alcoholic will take three to four attempts to get sober for good. After spending that full month in rehab it was not long before Vargas was drinking again.

“It only took me six months, seven months later before I was back to looking at myself in that bathroom mirror wondering, ‘how did I get here,’” she said.

Vargas said her parents, her sister and her brother all took time to try to help her.

“You sort of are standing by watching a train wreck. It was awful,” her sister Aimie Vargas said. “You just want to shake her and say, ‘Why are you doing this to yourself?’”

After this, Elizabeth went to a different rehab facility for a month, but after a few days at home, she went back again after her brother Chris Vargas flew in from California to take her.

“I walked into her apartment and she was completely out it,” Chris Vargas said. “It had been 7:30 in the morning, a couple of empty wine bottles beside her bed… I remember wanting to tell her, ‘Look, you can walk into a room and you can light up that room, but don’t show up drunk.’”

In 2014, Vargas was forced to go public with her alcoholism after it was leaked to press. She sat down for an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. That same year, her husband came to her and said he wanted a divorce. ABC also put her on notice to stay sober or lose her job.

That summer Vargas decided to take the kids on a vacation and rented a beach house in California, taking someone to help with the kids full-time.

“I drank again and I ruined it,” she said.

While in California, Vargas said she started with wine and then a bottle of tequila. But she got word that ABC needed to record her voice for a report to air the next day. When a crew arrived at 8am to tape her, Vargas said she was still drunk.

“I remember that day, sitting there, and I could read the words and I couldn’t make my mouth work to say the words,” she said.

Vargas said she feels sick to her stomach when she listens to that tape and other recordings of her where she had been drinking.

“But I’m glad I listened to it, because I never want to be there again,” she said.

Her bosses at ABC were alerted that she was drinking again, and she called her sister to say she was in trouble.

“It was the first time that she called and said, ‘I need help,’ and I’ll never forget that,” Aimie Vargas said. “It’s still really hard to talk about because I think I instantly knew, ‘This is bad.’”

Aimie said she dropped everything and flew to California to be with her sister. Elizabeth also called an ABC colleague who knew an actor/director in the area who was also a recovering alcoholic. He raced over, along with Vargas’ siblings, to comfort her two sons as she went into detox.

“I honestly, I thought it was all over,” Aimie Vargas said. “I thought she was going to lose the boys, and I thought she was going to lose her job. We all did.”

Embarrassed, ashamed and deeply humbled, Elizabeth Vargas said she decided to get help and fight to stay sober. A counselor flew with her back to New York. The first thing the counselor had her do was make a calendar of all the days she was drunk and what it did to those around her. Vargas said that’s what forced her to stop living in denial.

Vargas told her ABC bosses that she had finally grasped how important it was to surround herself with constant, daily help.

Vargas went to a sober house where they tested her blood for alcohol and ABC News agreed to give her unpaid time off to deal with the addiction and its underlying causes, and one more chance to prove she could stay sober.

“Thank God they gave me one more chance,” Vargas said. “Thank God, because, you know, many other employers wouldn’t have.”

She went back to work again, sober and grateful, and apologized to the colleagues who had to redo her work because of her drinking.

“I’m also really grateful to my colleagues in the “20/20” offices,” Vargas said.

The hardest of all, Vargas said, was she forced herself to confront what she had done to her children and apologized to them for the pain she caused them.

“You can’t just say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry I hurt you,’ and then, you know, leave it at that,” she said. “’I’m sorry I drank. I’m sorry I scared you. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you. I’m sorry I fell asleep and missed your recital. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’”

After their divorce, Vargas and her husband Marc Cohn agreed to joint custody of their sons.

In a statement, Cohn told “20/20,” “Elizabeth has always had, and will always have my support, especially in regards to her recovery. I have tried my best to protect our family during the course of this very complex and challenging journey, and that has included honoring Elizabeth’s privacy.

Now I applaud her efforts to shed some light on the link between anxiety and alcoholism, which I imagine will help countless numbers of people and families. As for our own family, we continue to be loving parents to our two incredible boys and I’m extremely grateful that we work well together in putting their needs front and center.”

Vargas has hope for the future. She has learned that if she ever feels tempted to drink, she has to leave and she makes time for meditation. She said anger is still a trigger for her to want to drink, but now she reaches for the phone and calls someone immediately if she feels those feelings coming on.

Most of all she said she hopes her children know she fought to pull herself out of the abyss for them.

Elizabeth Vargas and

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Her Road to Recovery