There’s no doubt that alcoholism is thriving in American culture. A socially accepted drug, alcohol related deaths are on the rise.
It’s use is widely promoted as a right of passage for young people. Sadly, though, many find themselves unable to turn away from the party lifestyle. Instead, they find themselves addicted. Other people begin using alcohol as a coping mechanism, after a drink or two they feel more confident and able to interact with others in an ordinarily uncomfortable situation.
We envision the typical “drunk” as being someone with slurred speech, impaired motor skills, and raucous behavior. However, it’s not always easy to spot someone with an alcohol problem. Many are what we call functioning alcoholics. That is to say, they have a secret addiction. They go to work, act responsibly, and maintain relationships, however, their dependence on alcohol is out of control. They feel they need it to function properly. In reality, of course, it’s doing nothing but slowly consuming them.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) researched death certificates to determine the number of alcohol related deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2017. They discovered that in that time frame, nearly 1 million Americans died due to their dependency on alcohol.
The death certificates mentioning alcohol tallied up to be 35,914 in 1999. By 2017, there were approximately 72,800 alcohol related deaths. Nearly half of those were related to liver disease or overdoses—caused by either alcohol alone or mixing alcohol with drugs.
Moreover, NIAAA researchers felt that the number was under reported. The part alcohol plays in a death isn’t always documented on the death certificate.
Breaking it down further
Focusing on the 2017 figures, researchers determined that people aged 45-74 had the highest alcohol related death rate. However, when looking at the overall stats from 1999 forward, 25-34 year olds had the largest increase overall. This statistics fits with recent reports that “deaths of despair” were increasing in that age group as well. These deaths include overdoses and suicides.
Sadly, though, by the end of the study, it became apparent that alcohol-related deaths don’t discriminate. Alcohol abuse affects all ages of racial and ethnic groups.
And, it’s killing them.
Men vs women
While you might think that men would top the list as far as gender related deaths, surprisingly, alcohol related deaths increased by 85% for women. The statistic rose only 35% for men.
Consistent drinking, even one drink per day, increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. It also puts them at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, and alcohol use disorder.
We’re all in this together
While evidence points to the fact that women are clearly being affected by alcohol abuse in large numbers, it’s reaching epidemic proportions across the board.
Evidence that supports this fact:
- An overall increase in emergency department visits due to alcohol related injury
- Hospitalization due to alcohol-related issues is on the rise
Alcohol addiction is hard to beat but it’s possible. Continued education regarding the affects that alcohol abuse has on the body enables the young and old alike to make informed decisions.
That’s a mighty tool.
It can deter someone from ever taking a drink in the first place.