Alcohol Facts and Risks According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
- 88,000 deaths are attributed to excessive alcohol use.
- Alcohol is the 3rd leading lifestyle related cause of death in the nation
- Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.5 million years of potential life lost annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death
- Up to 40% of all hospital beds in the United States (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol consumption
- Over time, excessive alcohol use, both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, can lead to numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems, including but not limited to:
- Dementia, stroke and neuropathy
- Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension
- Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide
- Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, violence including child maltreatment, fights and homicide
- Unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
- Increased risk for many kinds of cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and oesophagus
- Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
- Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis
- Alcohol abuse or dependence – alcoholism.
Alcoholism has little to do with what kind of alcohol one drinks, how long one has been drinking, or even exactly how much alcohol one consumes. However, it has a great deal to do with a person's uncontrollable need for alcohol. Most alcoholics cannot just "use a little willpower" to stop drinking. The alcoholic is frequently in the grip of a powerful craving for alcohol, a need that can feel as strong as the need for food or water. While some people are able to recover without help, the majority of alcoholics need outside assistance to recover from their disease. Yet, with support and treatment, many are able to stop drinking and reclaim their lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Excessive Alcohol Is:
- Binge drinking (defined as consuming 4 or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women or 5 or more drinks per occasion for men).
- Heavy drinking (defined as consuming 8 or more alcoholic beverages per week for women or 15 or more alcoholic beverages per week for men).
- Any drinking by pregnant women or those younger than age 21.
How Can I Contribute to the Prevention of Excessive Alcohol Use?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says you can-
- Choose not to drink too much yourself and help others not do it.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, follow the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on moderate alcohol consumption (no more than one drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men).12
- Support effective community strategies to prevent excessive alcohol use, such as those recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force.
- Not serve or provide alcohol to those who should not be drinking, including children or teens and those who have already drank too much.
- Talk with your health care provider about your drinking behavior and request counseling if you drink too much.
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