While opioids are taking up plenty of space in headlines and on the news, it would be a mistake to ignore the deadly health consequences of alcohol. Alcohol continues to be responsible for its own deadly epidemic—claiming 38,000 more lives each year than opioid abuse.
Alcohol Continues to Claim More Lives Than Opioid Abuse
Nearly 50,000 people lost their lives due to an opioid overdose in 2017. To get some perspective on that number, Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium has a capacity of 50,000 spectators for football games and events.
In comparison, alcohol was responsible for claiming the lives of approximately 88,000 people in 2017 (62,000 men and 26,000 women). Alcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death in the US. Only tobacco and poor diet and physical activity are responsible for more deaths, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Facts and Statistics About Alcohol and Health
It’s easy to think of alcohol as being a benign substance since it’s legal, readily available to adults, and socially acceptable. When used in moderation, it can be an enjoyable part of a social occasion with family and friends or a relaxing time at home.
When alcohol is abused, however, it is responsible for a number of consequences that are not as positive.
- The results of the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health (NSDUH) found that 15.1 million adults in the US (6.2 percent of this age group) had AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder). This disorder is included in the DSM-5; it combines the disorders of alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse into a single disorder (AUD), which is further broken down into mild, moderate, and severe categories. The figure of 15.1 million adults includes 9.8 million men (8.7 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.2 million percent of women in this age group).
- Alcohol-impaired driving claimed the lives of 9,967 people in the US in 2014, accounting for 31 percent of driving fatalities.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that three million people die as the result of “the harmful use of alcohol” each year.
- Alcohol consumption is linked to death and disability for young adults. Approximately 13.5 percent of deaths in the 20-39 age group can be attributed to alcohol.
Harmful Effects of Alcohol: Chronic Health Conditions
Alcohol abuse has been linked to a number of chronic health conditions, all of which can potentially be fatal. The following are some examples:
- Acute pancreatitis
- Breast cancer (females only)
- Esophageal cancer
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Liver cancer
- Liver cirrhosis
Harmful Effects of Alcohol: Acute Health Events
Alcohol can also pose a risk to one’s health and life through several acute events. These events can range from minor to serious, depending on the circumstances.
- Alcohol poisoning
- Injuries from falling
- Injuries from fire
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Poisoning (other than alcohol)
Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol abuse is an ongoing problem in the US. It continues to have a significant impact on health and safety, even if this issue isn’t getting the same number of headlines as opioid abuse. If you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s drinking, seek professional help from an alcohol treatment center.
English Mountain Recovery’s experienced, dedicated clinical staff are committed to providing evidence-based care for men and women struggling with alcohol addiction. We provide detox, counseling, and holistic support services designed to build the foundation for lasting sobriety.
Contact us today to learn more.
By Jodee Redmond