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The Many Ways Alcohol Can Kill You

Updated on April 2, 2015

When you hear that a person died as a result of alcohol you could be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion they died because of alcohol poisoning due to over indulgence, or from cirrhosis of the liver caused by excessive consumption of alcohol over a prolonged period of time. Many of us never think beyond this, yet there are so many ways that alcohol can kill and it is important that we remember these too. This is why I decided to write this article, in spite of the fact I enjoy a sociable alcoholic drink myself. The fact is that alcohol in excess can be a killer, and not just of those who consume it directly.

This article is essential reading for the drinker (and their family), if they seriously want to avoid not only killing themselves, but those around them, whether family members, people they cross paths with, or acquaintances. No-one can consider themselves safe from the possibility alcohol can kill them or their family, even if they are not drinkers personally! If you find this statement hard to fathom you need to read the rest of this article to understand the message I am trying to get across.

The Drunken Driver

A person who drinks to excess and then gets behind the wheel of a car is now someone capable of killing not only themselves, but any unfortunate person who happens to get in the way of the lethal weapon they are now effectively 'wielding'. In this case the car may be the object that physically causes the death in question, but the actual killer is the alcohol itself and the effect it had on the driver's ability to not only operate that vehicle safely, but judge his own capability to safely drive any vehicle.

The Reckless Individual / False Bravery

Whilst under the influence of excessive alcohol consumption many people feel totally invincible. Their confidence and bravery is given a massive boost and they feel capable of undergoing any challenge thrown at them, (think 'Dutch Courage'). Whilst this may be helpful when summoning up the courage to chat up a girl in a nightclub, it is not such a great idea when the inebriated person decides they can easily and safely climb up the nearest set of scaffolding for a bet, or they can win a fight with the biggest, ugliest and toughest person in the bar.

An example of alcohol causing a person to die through reckless behaviour happened some years back on a neighbouring island to where I live. The island is called Sark, and has no cars, only bicycles, a few tractors and horses and carriages. One of Sark's features is a long walkway built between the main island and a smaller part of it called 'Little Sark'. Either side of this walkway is a huge drop down to the rocks and the sea below, the only barrier being a double rail each side of it. One night a lad who had been drinking heavily with friends decided he could safely do a handstand on the rail itself. Whilst attempting this crazy and reckless action he lost his balance and fell the wrong way, killing himself upon hitting the rocks way below.

The Fearful Relative

Sadly it is not uncommon for domestic violence to be linked to alcohol, and certainly many incidents of domestic violence either against spouses or children happen when alcohol has been consumed to excess. This is not to say the violence wouldn't have happened without alcohol, but it does seem to play a significant role in many such abusive relationships. There are plenty of documented cases where the abused individual tolerates this violence for many years before finally reaching breaking point and killing their abuser. This is another example of how alcohol can kill, in this case the drinker, but only by the victim fighting back against the lifestyle the abuser (and the alcohol) has forced them to live with for however long the violence has been going on. Of course the drinkers themselves can also perform such a violent act whilst drunk that they physically kill their family member or members, and whilst they will sober up and possibly be horrified at what they have done, it is too late, the alcohol has killed the victim or victims, and quite possibly the perpetrator too if the death penalty exists where they live.



This can happen in so many ways. After a consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol it is so easy to fall asleep in a chair with a lit cigarette in your hand, a pan boiling on the stove, a fire burning in the grate without the guard in front of it etc. Some years ago my own Husband had been on a good night out, came home, and fell asleep on our sheepskin rug in front of a halogen heater whilst still wearing his plastic waterproof coat. I was upstairs taking off my make-up for bed when I smelt a very strange odour coming up the stairs. I headed back to our living room to see a spiral of smoke plumbing up from the back of my Husband's coat. He had his back so close to the heater that his coat had literally begun melting and presumably catching fire. Fortunately I was there to wake him up and get his coat extinguished. Goodness knows what would have happened if I hadn't been there though. Some people are not so lucky and all that is found is their charred remains.

Slowed Reflexes / Balance

Our reflexes naturally slow down or cause incorrect reactions when we are under the influence of alcohol. This is very dangerous if we are walking along a pavement / sidewalk and stagger into the path of a car as a result of either bad balance or a slowed ability to react to an oncoming vehicle. The same applies if the drunk person is standing at the top of a flight of stairs and falls down them because of a loss of balance, or a badly judged reaction to a pet or child that happens to be on or around the stairs themselves. These kind of failures of judgement can easily kill the drinker in question.


Excessive consumption of alcohol can seriously affect memory, and this becomes life threatening in situations such as when a diabetic forgets to take their insulin, or a person on heart tablets fails to take them because they are not sure if they already have or not. They may even inadvertently overdose by taking their tablets twice instead of once. Essential hospital appointments can be forgotten, and even important appointments that might impact on family member's lives, such as making sure elderly relatives keep their own hospital or doctor's appointments, or forgetting to pick your child up from school and something awful happening to them as a result.


These are just the basic examples of how alcohol can kill a person even if not always in the 'obvious' ways. There are no doubt plenty of other ways alcohol is a killer that I have neglected to cover when writing this article. I am not condemning drinking alcohol completely, I even enjoy it myself, I just feel that those who enjoy alcohol to excess should be aware that alcohol kills in many more ways than they might immediately assume even without thinking it through to the level I have covered in this article.

'Everything in moderation' therefore appears to be a very good 'rule of thumb' to follow.


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