Everyone knows that alcohol abuse is a real and scary thing. However, many people don’t realize just how scary it is. After all, alcohol is a large part of US culture. We see alcohol almost everywhere. It is often shown to be glamorous and fun. Commercials show beautiful women and attractive men casually holding an alcohol drink at all types of events. However, this view masks the dark truth of alcohol abuse. It is the source of lots of misery and strife. It doesn’t only affect the person drinking. Alcohol abuse also harms children, families, friends, careers, and the economy. We’ve put together this list of real and scary alcohol abuse facts to show some of the harms of alcohol abuse. Some of our facts come from alcohol statistics. Others come from medical surveys. All of them show how dangerous alcohol abuse is. Use this information to remind yourself or others why alcohol abuse is a bad idea.
1. Alcohol is the Most Commonly Used Addictive Substance in the US
We know that alcohol is everywhere. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the US. Nearly 1 in every 12 adults has issues with alcohol dependence or abuse. You should pay close attention to your relationship to alcohol. Look for signs of alcoholism. Get help right away if you show signs of alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
2. Alcoholism is the Third Leading Lifestyle-Related Cause of Death in the US
Alcohol causes a surprisingly high number of deaths. For example, most people are aware of the dangers of drunk driving. However, alcohol also causes other types of accidents. For example, it is especially deadly when combined with firearms or painkillers. Moreover, it can cause serious diseases and health conditions. 80,000 people die from alcohol-related problems every year in the US. Furthermore, alcohol causes 31% of all deaths on the road. The worst thing about these deaths is that they didn’t have to happen.
3. Alcohol Changes Your Brain
The human brain is an amazing thing. It overcomes lots of challenges. However, one of the things that makes the brain so powerful also causes problems with alcohol. The brain adapts to its environment. If you live high on a mountain it gets used to less oxygen. However, alcohol abuse makes the brain adapt as well. It changes nerve and brain connections to handle the booze. Moreover, the changes that happen might be permanent. As a result, some people will have problems even after they quit drinking. Don’t let alcohol abuse change your brain!
4. Millions of Youths Report Dangerous Drinking
The legal drinking age is 21 in America. A person’s body and brain are still developing when they are young. Alcohol and drugs harm development. That’s why we have a legal drinking age. However, this doesn’t mean that people always wait to consume alcohol. Research on alcohol abuse shows that 6.9 million youths between the ages of 12 and 20 report binge drinking. Additionally, 2.1 million youths report heavy drinking. Heavy drinking is understood as five or more drinks five times a week. Youth drinking is dangerous. It results in drunk driving. Moreover, it delays puberty and slows bone growth. Additionally, these youths are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.
5. 696,000 Students Have Been Assaulted by Someone who was Drinking
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have been assaulted by a drunk peer. Moreover, these are just the assaults that are reported. Recent investigations suggest that even more assaults go unreported. Other studies show that alcohol abuse comes with an increase in violent behavior. These events ruin a person’s college experience. They are traumatic. Additionally, 50% of sexual assaults in college involve alcohol use. 74% of perpetrators and 55% of victims report drinking alcohol before the assault. This results in 97,000 reported sexual assaults.
6. Alcohol Makes Depression and Anxiety Worse
Many people turn to booze to escape their problems. However, alcohol abuse makes mental health problems worse. Alcohol increases anxiety and depression. This occurs because alcohol messes with your brain chemistry. As a result, your brain doesn’t handle stressful situations properly. Additionally, this makes existing mental health problems worse. Therefore, it’s no surprise that alcohol abuse and mental health problems frequently go together. This is known as a dual-diagnosis. 7.9 million US adults face this problem.
7. Alcohol Causes Weight Gain
Alcohol abuse causes weight gain. For example, a frozen margarita has the same number of calories as a cheeseburger. An occasional drink won’t make you fat. However, alcoholics need more booze as their condition gets worse. This leads to more drinks and more calories. Additionally, binge drinking increases the risk of diabetes. Alcohol stops your body from absorbing insulin. This leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition. It can dramatically impact your lifestyle. You’ll need to watch what foods you eat and constantly worry about your blood sugar and insulin levels. Don’t let alcohol abuse dictate how you live your life!
8. Drinking While Pregnant Can Cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Alcohol abuse affects more than the person doing the drinking. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a very real condition. There is no safe amount of alcohol for pregnant women. FAS causes developmental disorders. These include physical and mental disabilities. As a result, people with FAS have a harder time in school. They have a more difficult time holding down a job. Moreover, some may require lifetime care. Alcohol abuse harms children even if they escape the symptoms of FAS. These children face a chaotic and challenging life. For example, they develop a fear of authority figures, feelings of guilt, problems fitting in, and other issues.
9. Alcohol Abuse can Cause Cancer
Most people know that alcohol can destroy your liver. However, many don’t realize that alcohol can cause cancer. Moreover, it doesn’t only cause cancer in the liver. Alcohol abusers risk head and neck cancer, throat cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. Additionally, cancer isn’t the only disease alcohol causes. As a result, these cancers are more difficult to treat. People with weak immune systems and other health issues don’t respond as well to cancer treatment. It’s just one more way that alcohol abuse can kill you.
10. People Aged 12-20 Consume 11% of All Alcohol in the US
The CDC reports that people aged 12-20 drink 11% of all the alcohol in the US. This is a huge amount of booze. Furthermore, 90% of this consumption happens in the form of binge drinking. The report goes on to say that these students are more likely to have problems in school. They are also more likely to be arrested or be injured in an accident. Additionally, they are at a higher risk for suicide or homicide.
11. Alcohol Weakens the Immune System
We’ve described some of the diseases that alcohol causes. However, alcohol abuse makes it more likely you’ll catch other diseases as well. Alcoholism causes a weakened immune system. As a result, you’re at a greater risk for lots of very unpleasant illness, including:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to produce the cells that make your immune system. Additionally, liver damage stops your body from removing harmful bacteria and toxins. As a result, alcohol abuse can cause you to be sick more often.
12. Alcohol Abuse can Destroy Your Voice
Your voice is one of your most unique features. It is how people know who is talking and helps you stand apart from the crowd. Alcohol dehydrates you. This damages your larynx and vocal chords. Furthermore, it irritates the mucous membranes in your throat. Alcohol abuse wrecks your voice. This does more than impact your singing. It alters a key part of who you are and how people identify you.
13. Binge Drinking can be Fatal
People say they feel like they’re dying when they have a hangover. However, binge drinking can kill you. Alcohol messes with the body’s central nervous system. This is the system that controls things like heart rate and breathing. It also controls the gag reflex. Specifically, alcohol lowers the CNS’s response. Binge drinking lowers these functions to the point of death. One of the body’s natural responses to too much alcohol is to vomit. However, you may not be able to do this if your gag reflex is wiped out by alcohol abuse. This creates the risk that you suffocate on your own vomit. Furthermore, binge drinking makes you prone to accidents. This includes drunk driving accidents. It also includes things like passing out in the cold or slips and falls.
14. Alcohol Abuse Causes Sexual Dysfunction in Men
Lots of people use alcohol as a social aid. They feel looser and more able to talk with others. Some men use booze to work up the nerve to talk to potential sexual partners. However, alcohol abuse causes sexual dysfunction in men. Alcohol has a negative effect on Leydig cells. These cells are responsible for producing testosterone. Studies find that alcohol abuse lowers the amount of testosterone in the blood. It also reduces other important hormones. As a result, alcohol abuse can prevent you from having sex.
15. Alcohol can Ruin Your Skin
We’ve already mentioned that alcohol dehydrates you. But that isn’t the only way it can play havoc with your skin. Alcohol abuse causes Rosacea. This leads to premature aging, wrinkles, redness, and irritation. Alcohol also causes your pores to clog. This leads to acne and other skin conditions. The result is that you might be trading in your looks for a temporary buzz when you abuse alcohol.
16. Alcohol Abuse has Huge Economic Costs
This list has covered a lot of the individual costs of alcohol abuse. But there are lots of larger costs as well. Alcohol abuse puts a strain on the economy. The CDC estimates that alcohol abuse costs the US $249 billion in 2010 alone. They go on to point out that this equals $2.05 per drink. The costs come from a few different sources. 72% of the total is in lost productivity. 11% comes from health care costs. The rest is made from criminal justice, property damage, and car accidents. Moreover, binge drinking caused 77% of those losses. As a result, it’s easy to see how alcohol abuse doesn’t just hurt the person drinking. That isn’t to say that alcohol abuse is cheap for the drinker. Even the cheapest drink adds up. As a result, families suffer because so much of their budget is dedicated to getting drunk.
Understanding the Scary and Real Facts about Alcohol Abuse
These facts make it clear that alcohol abuse is a dangerous and costly practice. It produces many risks and harms. Moreover, it doesn’t only affect the person drinking. There are real harms to the friends and families of alcohol abusers, as well as society in general. Use these facts to remind yourself why alcohol abuse is to be avoided. There are lots of treatment options for people dealing with alcohol abuse. These range from support groups to intensive inpatient treatment programs. No matter who you are, there’s a program that can help you. The good news is that help is available. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse doesn’t have to be a death sentence for you or the people you care about.