Each year approximately 88,000 deaths are attributed to alcohol use. Fifty-three percent of adults report that someone close to them has an alcohol use disorder (AUD). An AUD can be alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence or both. Alcohol abuse is when alcohol interferes with life obligations such as work and family. Binge drinking, which is five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in two hours for women, is a form of alcohol abuse. Alcohol dependence is defined as suffering from withdrawals when stopping consumption and lacking the ability to control amount consumed. The disease affects some groups more than others. For instance, young adults in the 18-29 age range tend to have a higher incidence of binge drinking. Part of that demographic, college students, has a 6% rate of alcohol dependence. Some ethnic groups, such as Native Americans, have a higher rate of AUD than other groups. Also, three times as many men as women have an AUD.
About a third of all violent crimes in the US involve at least one individual who was under the influence of alcohol. It is also a leading factor in domestic abuse and child neglect cases. Seventy percent of alcohol related incidents occur at home, most often at 11pm. Thirty-six percent of people in correctional institutions were under the influence of alcohol at the time of their arrest.
It is estimated that over-indulgence in alcohol costs the US $223.5 billion per year. Most of this cost comes from lost workplace productivity and healthcare expenses. Not only does this lost productivity come directly from those who drink, but people who have family members with an AUD use ten times as much sick leave than average. On an individual, level costs due to getting a DUI can be a financial wrecking ball. Estimated cost per DUI is about $10,000 in bail, fines, fees, raised insurance rates and attorney costs.
1) Short term health risks
- memory loss or “blacking out”
- lowered inhibitions which can lead to dangerous behavior
- raised appetite which can lead to unhealthy late night binge eating
- negative effects on sleep
- compromised work or school due to sleep deprivation and hangover
2) Long term health risks
- Habitual over-consumption of alcohol increases the risk of throat cancer by 700%, and is linked to mouth, stomach, liver, and bowel cancers.
- Though moderate consumption of alcohol has been shown to be heart-protective, consistent, heavy consumption leads to cardiovascular ailments such as high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.
- A study on 6,000 Scots found that those who had more than 5 drinks per day were twice as likely to die from a stroke as those who didn’t drink.
- Long term alcoholism causes fatty liver and leads to scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver.
- Alcohol reduces fertility in both men and women.
A serious, immediate health hazard from over-consumption of alcohol is alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when an individual ingests too much alcohol over a short period of time. Their blood becomes diluted with ethanol and the individual’s central nervous system begins to shut down. There are over 50,000 reported alcohol poisoning cases per year.
Signs of AUD
Signs of an AUD can include alcohol cravings, trouble stopping or controlling consumption, risky behavior while intoxicated, and spending a lot of time recovering from drinking episodes. If you or someone you now is suffering from an AUD, you should seek professional help.