88,000 deaths this year in the United States will be attributable to excessive alcohol use. In 2006, there were more than 1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million physician office visits due to excessive drinking. That costs 223.5 billion dollars! Alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for our nation. (CDC)
A standard drink is any drink that contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. This is found in one 12-ounce beer (5% alcohol content), 8-ounce malt liquor drink (7% alcohol content), 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (40% alcohol content). Excessive drinking, as defined by the CDC, includes heavy drinking, binge drinking and drinking while pregnant or underage. Heavy drinking is defined as 8 or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men. Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive alcohol use and is defined when women have 4 or more drinks in one single occasion and men have 5 or more drinks in a single occasion.
It is important for us all to know the health implications of drinking alcohol and its effects. Injuries can happen with excessive alcohol use, which include drowning, falls, burns, unintentional shootings as well as vehicular, motorcycle, and ATV crashes. Alcohol poisoning also occurs when high blood alcohol levels suppress the nervous system causing loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and temperature, coma, respiratory depression and death. When alcohol is abused long-term, there are neurological problems, psychiatric and social problems, cancer and liver disease that can occur. All of the above cause major costs and time for the medical industry, community and families.
The CDC shows that 35% of violent offenders are reportedly intoxicated. 2 out of 3 incidents of intimate partner violence involve alcohol and it is also the leading factor in child maltreatment and neglect cases. In fact, alcohol is the most prominent substance abused by parents in these situations. People take more risks sexually when under the influence causing pregnancy or disease and those that use alcohol regularly throughout pregnancy are at higher risk to give birth to children with severe health and developmental problems.
April is Alcohol Awareness month, and being aware of what you are drinking and the consequences that can occur when one is using alcohol or abusing is critical in making good choices. Excessive alcohol use can cause major health issues, injury and violence which in turn cost all of us as a community and nation. Take the time to know, to be aware and to make a good decision.