Though significant strides have been made in the area of alcohol education and in reducing the number of drunken drivers on the road, many people still do not realize that alcohol is responsible for the deaths of 2.5 million people worldwide each year.
Internationally, nearly 4% of all deaths are alcohol related. More than half of these deaths are from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like cancer, cardiovascular disease and liver cirrhosis. Here in the U.S., alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, alcoholic beverage consumption should be done in moderation, which is defined as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.
Sadly, some of those who do not follow these guidelines suffer from alcohol-related illness and untimely deaths.
The Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism
Though both are considered forms of alcohol abuse, there are some significant differences between binge drinking and alcoholism. Binge drinking is something usually done in the short term in a social or celebratory setting, while alcoholism is long-term dependency, indicating a far deeper addiction to alcohol which requires intervention, detoxification, treatment, and professional support.
Binge drinkers, as defined by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, are those whose pattern of drinking brings their body’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This occurs most often when, in a 2-hour period, men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks.
Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. Because of this, they don’t consider their drinking problematic and may not fully understand the health risks to themselves and others.
As defined by the American Medical Association (AMA), alcoholism is “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.”
Alcoholism is characterized by:
- Prolonged, frequent, and often heavy alcohol us
- Inability to control alcohol consumption once begun
- Physical dependence that manifests in withdrawal symptoms when the use of alcohol stops
- Increased tolerance, meaning the user must increase his or her alcohol intake in order to achieve the same effects
- Alcohol Interference with daily life activities
- Social and/or legal problems arise from alcohol use
Short-Term Health Issues of Alcoholism
- Alcohol poisoning
- Alcoholic blackouts
- Accidents (motor vehicle accidents, falls, burns, and accidental drowning)
- Violence and injuries as a result of mishandling or use of firearms, sexual assault, and domestic violence
- Risky sexual behaviors, sometimes leading to sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancy
- Neurological damage
- Hair loss
Long-Term Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse
- Neurological disorders
- High blood pressure and stroke
- Cardiovascular problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Miscarriage, stillbirth and children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide
- Increased incidence of cancer, especially of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast
- Increased risk for a variety of liver diseases, including alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis
- Gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis
Alcohol Abuse and Drunk Driving
Though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports a 30% decline in the number of drunk driving incidents in the last five years, they estimate that nearly 4 million Americans drove drunk in 2010.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), “While the nation has made great strides in reducing drunk driving over the years, it continues to be one of the leading causes of death and injury on America’s roads, claiming a life every 48 minutes.”
If you’ve been injured in a drunk driving accident, contact Meshbesher & Spence for a consultation with our personal injury attorneys. Our attorneys are available to visit you in the hospital, in your home, or in our offices, and they will help you determine if you will be able to recover damages for your injuries.