Substance Dependency is a Disease
Alcohol is such a big part of American life today that we rarely stop to consider our pattern of drinking. We drink wine with dinner, or have a few drinks after work, or even a few beers while watching a ball game, but when a pattern of drinking begins to emerge, it can become a problem.
Drug use in America is also more commonplace than it once was. In today’s teenage population over 90 percent have used alcohol. Over 50 percent have used marijuana, 17 percent admit to trying cocaine and 12.5 percent have used some form of hallucinogen.
via Facts about Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
Excessive alcohol use, including underage drinking and binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer.
via CDC – Alcohol and Public Health Home Page – Alcohol.
What are the risks of drinking?
You may have heard that regular light to moderate drinking can be good for the heart. With heavy or at-risk drinking, however, any potential benefits are outweighed by greater risks, including
- Injuries. Drinking too much increases your chances of being injured or even killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60% of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides; 50% of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls.
- Health problems. Heavy drinkers have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke, bleeding from the stomach, sexually transmitted infections from unsafe sex, and several types of cancer. They may have problems managing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions.
- Birth defects. Drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. Because it is not yet known whether any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not drink.
- Alcohol use disorders. Generally known as alcoholism and alcohol abuse, alcohol use disorders are medical conditions that doctors can diagnose when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. In the United States, about 18 million people have an alcohol use disorder.
Beyond these physical and mental health risks, frequent heavy drinking also is linked with personal problems, including losing a driver’s license and having relationship troubles.
via What are the risks? – Rethinking Drinking – NIAAA.