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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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    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      I has heard that before Alan, the British are known as a country of boozers, not an image to be proud of by any means!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Interesting article Cindy, your husband was very lucky that you saved him from serious burns that night he came home. The now call the UK. boozeR Brit

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks for your post 'anonymous' it makes excellent points and is without doubt thought provoking to anyone.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Alcohol is harmful in several ways. Lets see theres addiction hangovers and drunkeness. The person's time money and life is spent or rather wasted on alcohol. Alcohol causes grievous accidents. Alcohol makes the person say or do stupid and destructive things. Alcohol causes homelessness. Alcohol makes the person stink. And if that's not bad enough alcohol causes cancer just like smoking. And alcohol destroys brain cells and destroys the liver. The book and movie Sarah T-portrait of a teenage alcoholic can be seen on youtube. Sarah Travis becomes addicted to drinking and it takes a horrific tragedy to get her to quit drinking. In the end her addiction to alcohol is so great she stupidly decides to ride a horse on a highway and the poor horse is struck by a car and killed. Its gut wrenching. Alcohol ruins lives. It angers me that beer wine champagne are sold in large quantities and more liquor stores keep opening up. Why can't they open up something healthy beneficial and intelligent such as a fruit smoothie store or a frozen yogurt store? The human condition just refuses to change and refuses to improve. As long as alcohol is around more lives will be wasted and ruined. It makes me angry but theres nothing I can do about it. Alcohol is one of the cruel gifts the creator gave us. Alcohol should be banned.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      That is a sad story Oscarlites, it is such a shame so very many people use alcohol to cope with their pain, yet do themselves incredible damage in the process.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 

      6 years ago from Monroeville, Alabama

      HI Misty.. very thoughtful, realistic and well presented.

      I had a great uncle who after serving in Korea, came back the the USA and drank his sorrows, painting homes for spending money, and a sad story he told us kids was that he had a "wife" in Korea,, and when the war ended he was forced to come home and leave her, and she was not able to come back with him. I'm sure whatever the details, they were long gone even before I heard the story. was it an excuse to him for being a casualty? A burden to my grandparents? I know my grandmother loved him and took care of him, and she protected us kids from him in certain ways when we came to visit. But he died of liver complication in a veterans hospital at the young age of 52. His favorite drink was Jack Daniels. Grandmother would get him to come to church at times, and I remember seeing him come in once, and I know he was there because he wanted things to change but he never seemed to be able to stop the cycle. I think he wanted a better life, but never got past his addiction.

      - thanks for this hub! voted up.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Peaceful life, I hope it makes a good few heavy drinkers think twice about the actual risks they are taking.

    • Peaceful life profile image

      Peaceful life 

      7 years ago from Las vegas

      you did share a great hub, its your goodness..i appreciate...thanks

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Bob, and lovely to see you here. I agree with you about what alcohol is doing to Britain today. You only have to look at the activity outside some pubs on a Friday or Saturday night to see the level society is dropping too after too much alcohol consumption. I agree with you on the pot issue too, definitely preferential to alcohol.

      Glad you are okay now.

      Take Care and catch up soon


    • diogenes profile image


      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Misty: I am a recovering alcoholic. I spent 30 years trying to kill myself and you wouldn't believe the horror stories. I finished up in Huntsville TDC Texas and served three years. I have never been a drunk since being released in 1986. I do take a drink now and again and can keep a bottle of Scotch in the house and have a nip now and again. But i still can't drink socially as the old wild hair kicks in and there's no tomorrow. I see alcohol as a dire enemy if you want the truth. Britain is going down the drain largely because of it. I have lost two close friends who died young behind alcohol poisoning and another whom I fear for. Pot is better for you, although I have never smoked.

      Good hub, society needs to be constantly warned about this insiduous poison...Bobx

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Lawson 

      7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks for commenting Cardisa. I wish more people would think about the other ways alcohol can be lethal other than the obvious.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      Many people forget about the other effects of alcohol, the ones you mentioned. Thanks for reminding us.


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