The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC
) estimates 79,000 deaths annually are attributed to excessive alcohol use, making it our third-leading cause of death. The book, Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud
puts the number closer to one million, when all the diseases caused indirectly by alcohol (cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.) are factored in.
Up to 40 percent of all hospital beds in the country (except for those being used by maternity and intensive care patients) are being used to treat health conditions that are related to alcohol misuse.
Alcohol use disorders cost more than $220 billion in social, medical, lost productivity and correctional expenses in the U.S. annually.
Alcoholism is a disease recognized by the American Medical Association
since 1957. Most alcoholics can't just "use a little willpower" to stop the drinking that is rooted in a genetic flaw. An alcoholic’s tissues actually change where they prefer the alcohol molecule over the sugar molecule, which creates dependence.
Alcoholism has no cure, but there are several treatments. It can only be arrested, or brought into remission, by stopping drinking. It is a chronic and fatal disease that is also progressive, which means it only gets worse the longer a person drinks. Alcoholism treatment professionals suggest that when a sober alcoholic returns to the alcohol in a relapse, he or she rapidly returns to where the disease would have progressed had the person never stopped drinking.
While many feel stimulated by the first drink and - unfortunately - a few get aggressive after too many, alcohol not a stimulant, it is a central nervous system depressant drug.
The body metabolizes approximately one drink (12 ounce beer, five ounce glass of wine, 1.5 ounce liquor shot) per hour. It is absorbed directly into the bloodstream in the stomach and upper part of the intestine. Only water enters the bloodstream quicker.
Alcohol is changed by the liver first into acetaldehyde, which is more toxic than the alcohol. Acetaldehyde is an industrial solvent and also is used as a base for paint products. The acetaldehyde is changed into vinegar, then further broken down into carbon dioxide and water.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans
, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
, recommends that "if you choose to drink alcohol, do not exceed one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men."
Alcohol-related traffic deaths account for 40 percent (10,000) of all deaths on America’s roads. There is evidence of impairment at levels well below the current standard of .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), yet the U.S. permits one of the highest standards for intoxicated driving in the world, based on study by the International Center for Alcohol Policies
. Sweden, thought to have the world’s safest roads, sets the limit at .02 BAC.
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