- Mental Health»
The Dangers of Alcohol: The Facts, Figures, and Reflection.
I have hesitated in writing this article for quite some time. It has hovered on the periphery, always on the perpetual to-do list, never quite moving up that list….the bridesmaid of my writing career.
Why the reluctance? Simply because this writer is an alcoholic, and as such I did not want my views of alcohol to appear to be a rant made by some crusading do-gooder who now thinks alcohol is evil.
I do not, in fact, believe that alcohol is evil. I do, however, believe it is the number one drug in the world, and because it is legal, and because it is accepted, its dangers are all too often ignored.
I do not seek to rid the world of alcohol. That was tried during Prohibition and was a resounding failure. I do, however, want to raise awareness about it. The fact that this drug is socially acceptable makes it particularly dangerous, and the statistics prove that fact beyond a shadow of a doubt.
So, what are the statistics?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Your Online Source for Credible Health Information
Hard, Cold Facts
· Alcohol-related crashes kill someone in the United States every 22 minutes. At any minute, one of fifty drivers is drunk, and on weekends that number jumps to one out of ten.
· The Center for Disease Control tells us that there are 105,000 alcohol related deaths each year on U.S. roads.
· Drunk drivers are responsible for ½ of all highway fatal injuries.
· Of all murders, 34% involved alcohol consumption.
· More than half of the rapists in America have been drinking prior to the rape.
· Mothers convicted of child abuse are three times more likely to be alcoholic; fathers, ten times.
· 36% of suicide victims were drinking just before taking their own lives.
· Heavy drinking occurs in 60% of violent crimes, 30% of suicides, and 80% of fire and drowning accidents.
· The use of alcohol costs over $18 billion in health care and treatment.
· 2.9% of live births have fetal alcohol syndrome.
· The cost to the economy of alcohol abuse is $150 billion annually.
And the statistics go on and on.
What Makes Alcohol so Dangerous?
There is no simple answer to that question. Most definitely, the fact that alcohol is a legal drug and is socially acceptable makes it dangerous in society. Drinking has become a rite of passage for our youth, and it is so easy to obtain that it is literally available for anyone who wishes to exercise that rite of passage.
Alcohol is also the number one social drug in America. Whether it be at a family picnic, a business meeting, or just friends gathering socially, alcohol is part of the fabric of this country.
Because alcohol impairs judgment and reaction times, as well as breaks down our control factor, people are much more apt to do something while drinking that they would never do when sober.
One of the unique features of alcohol is the time-lapse nature of the drug. By the time you realize you should stop drinking, you are already impaired and will become more so immediately after stopping.
And of course, excessive drinking of alcohol has negative effects on our health.
My personal story
- Alcoholism: One Alcoholic's Personal Story
What to do when you find yourself in the grips of a nightmare? What can you do if a loved one is lost to this disease?
A Realistic View
Bringing about an end to alcohol consumption in this country is simply a fool’s dream. It was tried once during Prohibition with disastrous results. Americans like their booze! From the good old boys pounding back some brewskies while working in the yard, to the housewives meeting for a glass of wine for lunch, alcohol is deeply mired in our society, and so it shall remain.
Teenagers have a drink or five after a high school football game, and relatives relax in the backyard with some Wild Turkey and a few beers. Business executives have their power lunches and the poor drink rot-gut to get through another day.
It is estimated that 60% of Americans drink alcohol. No, it is not going away!
Have you ever driven while impaired by alcohol?
So What’s the Point?
The point is to raise awareness. This author is, in fact, an alcoholic, and as one I can realistically point out the dangers of this legal drug. The number of alcoholics, like myself, is relatively small; however, the number of heavy drinkers is much higher, and the number of moderate drinkers higher still. No, a heavy drinker may not be addicted to alcohol, but that does not make them any less susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol. No, a teenager may not be an alcoholic, but that does not make them any less susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol.
May I make a few suggestions? I’m just going to toss out a couple thoughts and you can either grab hold of them or not.
If you are a parent, know what your children are doing. Hundreds of thousands of children begin drinking by the age of twelve. Twelve! Do I need mention how dangerous that is?
If you are drinking socially in a social setting, designate a sober driver, or be prepared to take a cab home. It is a fine line between being in control and being out of control, and that line is often the difference of one drink. Operating a vehicle requires excellent reflexes, and your reflexes are impaired when driving under the influence. If it takes you one second more to react to a situation while driving with alcohol in your system, that one second could be the difference between life and death.
If you are a parent, keep in mind the message you are sending to your children when you drink socially. Parents are the number one learning tool for a child. Our children parrot our behavior, and you can bet that they will parrot the behavior of drinking alcohol, and they will grow up accepting it as a social ritual. If it’s good enough for mom and dad, then it’s good enough for me. That kind of thinking could have negative consequences in the years to come.
Insist that your child’s school have a program that details the dangers of alcohol. This writer is all about raising awareness; information is power, and this information needs to be taught to our children.
If you are pregnant, do not drink alcohol. Period! There is no wiggle room with this point.
If you have a history of alcoholism in your family, beware! Alcoholism is hereditary in nature, and you may very well have a ticking time bomb inside of you.
Life has never been better
Well, hopefully this does not sound like the rant of a bitter alcoholic. Believe me, I would love to be one of those who can have a casual beer with one of the guys, or a glass of wine with dinner. Unfortunately, I cannot do those things, because for an alcoholic there is no such thing as one beer or one glass of wine.
I understand the attraction to drinking casually, and I have no vendetta against casual drinkers. I do, however, have an armful of information concerning the dangers of this legal drug, and I think responsible adults need to be aware of those dangers and act accordingly.
What I find amazing is the casual attitude that people have towards alcohol. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in your circle of friends who would light up a doobie in front of their child, but there is no hesitation in pouring a couple fingers of Jack in front of the kids, even though the Jack is much more dangerous than the doobie.
The upcoming holidays are a wonderful time for friends and family to get together and enjoy a glass of wine. Please, make sure that glass of wine does not lead to problems that can have very negative outcomes.
Remember: the life you save may be your own….or your spouse….or your child.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)