Alcohol abuse, also defined as alcohol dependence or addiction, crosses all social and economic lines and negatively affects many men, women and children around the world. Excessive alcohol consumption is a leading cause of premature death in the United States; it is the third major killer of people following heart disease and cancer.
The National Vital Statistics Report (NVSR) Deaths: Final Data for 2011, claimed:
Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years. The number of alcohol-induced deaths (2011), excluding accidents and homicides was 26,654.
A common form of alcohol abuse, called binge drinking, occurs when a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. One form of binge drinking can be through drinking games. Drinking games have been popular for years, particularly in the 18-25 age group. The continued glamorizing of alcohol abuse in the media and culturally in college settings influences many, creating unrealistic ideas about the necessity of drinking to have fun or to be normal. This huge misconception can be negatively life altering.
How does alcoholism develop? When a person drinks too much or too often, this person may develop a dependency on alcohol. With time, tolerance develops and a person has to consume increasing quantities of alcohol to satisfy his/her cravings. Eventually, this potential alcoholic becomes fully dependent on the daily consumption of alcohol beverages. Finally, an alcoholic person develops a habit with the strong need to drink in order to avoid the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.
Alcohol dependence is a more serious condition than alcohol abuse, as not all abuse results in addiction. It is important that people learn early that any alcohol abuse is dangerous and to avoid misuse for better overall health. Alcoholism, alcohol related death or any number of possible illnesses could be reduced or eliminated by effective public education.
Consider these sobering estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report,
•In 2013, 11.6 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 were current alcohol users, representing 2.9 million adolescents. Many of these adolescents reported past month binge drinking (6.2 percent or 1.6 million adolescents) and 1.2 percent (293,000 adolescents) were heavy alcohol users.
•In 2013, 56.4 percent of adults aged 18 or older were current drinkers of alcohol, which translates to an estimated 134 million current adult drinkers. Nearly one quarter (24.6 percent) of adults aged 18 or older in 2013 (58.5 million adults) were binge alcohol users. The percentage of adults engaging in heavy drinking was 6.8 percent (16.2 million adults).
These are sobering statistics. If you or someone you love needs help, don’t wait. Reach out right away.