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Is your good time turning into a drinking problem?

Posted Feb 11 2013 8:04am

Alcohol Use and Health

According to the CDC , there are approximately 80,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States . This makes excessive alcohol use the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.3 million years of potential life lost ( YPLL ) annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death. In 2006, there were more than 1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million physician office visits due to excessive drinking . The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion.

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These immediate effects are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following—

  • Unintentional injuries, including traffic injuries, falls, drownings, burns, and unintentional firearm injuries.
  • Violence, including intimate partner violence and child maltreatment . About 35% of victims report that offenders are under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol use is also associated with 2 out of 3 incidents of intimate partner violence. Studies have also shown that alcohol is a leading factor in child maltreatment and neglect cases, and is the most frequent substance abused among these parents.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and increased risk of sexual assault. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women, and a combination of physical and mental birth defects among children that last throughout life.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels that suppress the central nervous system and can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and body temperature, coma, respiratory depression, or death.

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. These include but are not limited to—

  • Neurological problems, including 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, and family problems.
  • Cancer of the mouth , throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.
  • Liver diseases, including—
For more information and additional resources:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI)
American Medical Association Alcoholics Anonymous Secular Organizations for Sobriety (S.O.S.)

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