April is Alcohol Awareness Month – a time to raise our knowledge of the dangers of alcohol consumption and misuse. Because alcohol is so socially acceptable, we tend to forget it’s a drug that can have potentially severe consequences, including an array of physical and mental health problems. Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, and remains a global risk factor for premature death and disability, accounting for an average of 3 million deaths per year.
Worldwide Alcohol Use and Abuse
Globally, alcohol is accessible and easier to obtain than illegal drugs. Drinking is also a cultural norm in many countries that have incorporated alcohol into various celebrations and rituals. While not everyone who drinks alcohol goes on to develop a substance use disorder, that doesn’t mean we should downplay the risks of alcohol misuse.
A significant proportion of the global problems attributable to alcohol consumption arise from unintentional and intentional injuries, including car accidents, violent behavior and suicides. Aside from death, some worldwide effects of alcohol abuse people can experience include:
- Organ and tissue damage
- Weakened immune system
- Increased risk of illnesses like cancer and depression
- Injuries and accidents that happen while people are under the influence
- Alcohol poisoning
- Domestic violence
Though the health hazards of alcohol start off small, they will increase in severity as a person’s tolerance grows and they become dependent on drinking to help them derive enjoyment from life.
Around the world, individual and societal variables affect the patterns of alcohol consumption and the magnitude of alcohol-related problems. Some environmental factors include economic status, cultural norms and the availability of alcohol. Though there is no single dominant risk factor, the more vulnerabilities someone has, the more likely they are to develop alcohol-related problems.
Government leaders can play a beneficial role in implementing public policies to reduce alcohol’s harmful effects. For example, legislators can draft stricter laws governing alcohol sales or create awareness campaigns to discourage drinking. They can also make screening and treatment programs more accessible and affordable for people with alcohol use disorders.
Alcohol and Mental Health
Since mental health challenges are a leading cause of disability worldwide, it’s also essential to note the connection between alcohol abuse and co-occurring issues like anxiety, depression and PTSD. People who develop a psychological and physical dependence on alcohol are much more prone to struggle with their mental well-being.
Some people rely on alcohol to cope with the pain of their internal distress, then discover they can’t stop drinking on their own. On the other side of the coin, an uncontrolled substance use disorder may cause alcoholics to become anxious or depressed. When these problems become intertwined, it’s essential to treat them simultaneously with evidence-based therapies.
Transform Your Life Here
At Cumberland Heights, we have been helping people break free from the cycle of addiction since 1966. Our mission of saving lives and ensuring nobody embarks on their recovery journey alone has remained unchanged for more than 50 years. We understand that substance abuse stems from a chronic disease, not a moral failing.
As the first addiction treatment center in Tennessee to earn certification from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, we provide outcome-oriented care. If a substance use disorder has taken over your life, reach out to us today to start your personalized treatment plan.