It's that time of year when we let our hair down and indulge in adult beverages. Parties galore. But what about the rest of the year?
The simple fact is that many of us are drinking ourselves to death. Don't think so? Here are the facts:
Alcohol poisoning kills six people every day.
Of those, 76 percent are adults ages 35-64, and three of every four people killed by alcohol poisoning are men.
The group with the most alcohol poisoning deaths per million people is American Indians/Alaska Natives (49.1 per 1 million).
Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for more than 30 percent of all driving fatalities each year.
More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment.
More than 65 million Americans report binge drinking in the past month, which is more than 40 percent of the total of current alcohol users.
Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year. That’s more than all illegal drugs combined.
Drunk driving costs the United States $199 billion every year.
Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident.
How drinking affects women:
More than 45 percent of adult women report drinking alcohol in the last month, and 12 percent of these report binge drinking.
About two-and-a-half percent of women who drink meet the criteria for alcohol dependence.
Approximately one in two women of child-bearing age drink, and 18 percent of women in this group binge drink (five drinks per binge, on average).
Excessive drinking can interrupt the menstrual cycle and lead to infertility.
Women who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex, increasing the risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Women who drink while pregnant increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause mental and physical birth defects.
Binge drinking dramatically increases the risk of sexual assault on women, especially those living in a college setting.
How drinking affects men:
Nearly 60 percent of adult men report drinking in the last month
23 percent of these report binge drinking five times per month (eight drinks per binge, on average).
Men are twice as likely to binge drink as women.
Approximately four-and-a-half percent of men met the criteria for alcohol dependence in the last year.
Men are nearly twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated behind the wheel or involved in fatal motor vehicle traffic accidents.
Excessive drinking in men increases aggression, raising the risk of physical assault on another person.
Men are more likely than women to commit suicide while under the influence of alcohol.
Excessive alcohol use is a common factor in sexual assault. It also increases a man’s risk of engaging in unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners, which increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
Alcohol use increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon in men.
Still eager to raise a glass?
Obviously, in moderation, there is no harm. But therein lies the problem. Far too many people don't know when to stop, don't want to or are in denial of their problem.
10 warning signs of alcoholism:
Drinking alone and in secrecy
Losing interest in other activities that were once enjoyable
Making drinking a priority over responsibilities, such as employment and family
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms (sweating, anxiety, etc.)
Extreme mood swings and irritability
Feelings of guilt associated with drinking
Having a drink first thing in the morning
Continuing to drink, despite health, financial and family problems
Inability to stop or control the amount of alcohol that’s consumed
So why do people drink?
1. Past Experiences
Past experiences with alcohol help to shape people’s current value and the expectations that they place on drinking alcohol. Alcohol users may recall their previous positive experiences with alcohol, and this may increase their motivation to drink. A negative experience will do the opposite.
People going through a stressful period in their life may value drinking alcohol more highly, because it helps to alleviate their negative feelings. The drinking removes, at least temporarily, the stress of anxiety.
3. Social Norm
Social norms are the behavioral expectations within a community. Alcohol is used at specific events and regular times for example, it is expected that alcohol would be served at most parties and weddings.
Exposure to alcohol-related cues increases the craving for alcohol, for example TV programmes, advertisements at events etc. On the other hand, financial influence, such as taxation, makes drinking less attractive. Evidence shows that simply raising the price of an alcoholic beverage by 10 percent reduces alcohol consumption by 7 percent.
This is a very simple reason. People drink because alcoholic drinks are quite accessible. In most families, drinking alcohol is a very common thing among adults. Alcohol is also readily available in most supermarkets.
6. As an Act of Rebellion
Some drink alcohol to be a rebel. They want to defy the rules and show that they are different from all the others. This is often seen among youngsters especially teenagers who are in the process of growing up – the adolescence factor.
7. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is one of the most prominent reasons for drinking among people of all categories. Being afraid that you might be isolated or discarded from a group of people and doing an activity. Teenagers especially are more vulnerable to being affected by this which can make them become addicted as they are being pressurized to drink more than they want.
People generally tend to drink alcohol in order to have fun. Being drunk makes them feel happy and “spirited,” and drinking alcohol with friends can be a fun experience. If people are nervous in social situations, drinking helps them relax and have more fun. People drink to have fun at parties, nightclubs, barbecues, and more, because they think alcohol enhances their experience.
It's hard to own up to it and it's painful to watch it in someone else. But the consequences are simply too terrible to ignore it.
If you're still not sure if someone you know has a drinking problem, watch this video:
If you know someone who you think needs help, click on this link for advice:
The holidays should be a time of joy. Make sure anyone you care about who may have an alcohol addiction does not drink and drive. Offer them support. And maybe a little tough love. It's the best gift you can give.