The month of April is Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The purpose of the month-long observance is to emphasize the need for education of the dangers of unsafe alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to increased risk on physical injury, violence, liver disease, cancer and more – a direct impact on individuals and local communities.
How much do you know about alcohol misuse? To raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol, it’s time to get educated and share the facts.
How many people drink alcohol in the United States? According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56 percent reported that they drank in the past month.
What is binge-drinking? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), defines binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month. In 2015, 25 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 7 percent reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.
How many people die from alcohol-related incidents? In the United States, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).
How can alcohol affect you physically? In 2013, 45 percent of the 72,000 liver disease deaths involved alcohol. Among all cinhosis deaths in 2013, 47 percent were alcohol related. In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of almost one in three liver transplants in the United States. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver and breast.
How can drinking make an impact beyond physical repercussions? In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249 billion. Three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge-drinking. More than 10 percent of US children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study.
Armed with the facts, it’s time to spread awareness about safe alcohol use. By taking action, community leaders can help prevent alcohol misuse in the community. Here are a few ideas how:
- Share tips with parents to help them talk to their children about the risks of alcohol use.
- Encourage educational sessions and classes about alcohol misuse for young people of all ages.
- Ask doctors and nurses to talk to their patients about the benefits of drinking less alcohol or quitting.