Most likely all of us can think of at least one person in our lives who drinks too much.
My hope is that after reading these risks and statistics we become more aware, empowered, and bold. Aware of the reality of the effects of alcohol, empowered to share these truths and help others, and boldness to reach out to our loved ones who may need correction. As a former binge drinker through high school and college, with a family history of alcohol addiction, I do not hold back on the expression of my beliefs on this topic. We must see alcohol for what it really is and understand its short and long term effects on the human body.
Let’s start with a question. What does beer have to do with sports?
The obvious answer is nothing. However, it’s all about the marketing. In our consumer world, these alcohol companies go the distance in order to sell their products. The media loves to associate alcohol with our population’s areas of interest. Countless commercials air daily while billboards look down on our streets telling us that we should consume alcohol. Beer companies partner with the NFL and other associations to empty our wallets and fill our stomachs. We need to be mindful of the information that goes into our brain. If we are not careful, we will fall victim to a belief like “beer and sports go together” or an even more dangerous one (especially for our children) “getting drunk is cool.” We see liquor companies advertise behind military themes and beautiful women. The truth is that these companies know exactly what they are doing. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion. Let’s take a look at the facts and see alcohol for what it really is.
The CDC reported that in 2015 the number of alcoholic liver disease deaths was 21,028, and the number of alcohol-induced deaths (excluding accidents and homicides) was 33,171. That is an alarming amount of alcohol-related deaths for just a one year span. The CDC also reports the percent of adults aged 18 and over who had at least one heavy drinking day (five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women) in the past year to be 25.1%. So, is it still okay to drink alcohol in moderation? I believe the following recommendation says it all; the Dietary Guidelines for Americans do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason. Again, not for any reason. This is probably because of the short and long-term effects of excessive alcohol consumption. The following risks are reported by the CDC. The short-term health risks include injuries such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns. Alcohol also increases the risk of violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence. Alcohol poisoning is another severe short-term risk, especially with binge drinking. Now, some long-term health risks of alcohol consumption. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer is also a risk including cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. Learning and memory problems may result, including dementia and poor school performance. Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, may also develop. Over time, the human body can build a tolerance to alcohol and as a result, alcohol dependence may occur. In other words, alcohol is addicting, so by nature, most cases of moderate consumption may eventually lead to excessive consumption.
In conclusion, a dangerous and poisonous substance is being promoted all around us. The proven risks and effects of alcohol consumption are readily available to us, and we need to be aware of them all. The advertisement of alcohol will continue to be in our faces, but it is up to us to see the truth. After watching alcohol-addictions destroy relationships in my family, I’ll be the first to call it what it really is, and that is poison. I encourage us all to be bold enough to reach out and help those around us who are suffering with addiction. There are many support groups in every city for those who have a problem including Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery and the local church. Alcohol consumption takes years off the human life, and we should be proactive in creating solutions.