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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

01-02-15 | By

3 Reasons Why Alcohol Is Actually The Most Dangerous Drug

3 Reasons Why Alcohol is the Most Dangerous Drug

Make no mistake… alcohol is deadly. Very deadly.

We have always made a point to make everyone aware that we do not have a problem with alcohol. Alcohol has existed for at least 10,000 years. We are by no means taking a position that alcohol should be abolished, or that if you drink alcohol you are doing something wrong. Everyone has the right to make their own choices.

We just want to make people aware of the truth…

1 – Alcohol Kills More Than All Drugs Combined

While the “War on Drugs” portrays the message that drugs like heroin and cocaine are the dangers, it fails to mention that alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths per year, while all other drugs combine to contribute to 20,000 deaths per year.

Alcohol is especially cruel because it kills people slowly. Most alcohol related deaths are due to liver problems that occur after years of alcohol use. In most cases, alcohol leads to three types of liver problems.

1 – Fatty Liver Disease is the build up of extra fat in liver cells. Almost all heavy drinkers have fatty liver disease. However if you quit drinking, the liver can heal itself and the fatty liver disease will go away.

2 – Alcohol Hepatitis causes the liver to swell and become damaged. Alcohol hepatitis can be mild to severe. Up to 35% of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis. If it is severe, it may occur suddenly and lead to serious complications including liver failure and death.

3 – Alcoholic Cirrhosis is the scaring of the liver which leads to poor liver function. It is the last stage of chronic liver disease.

When we look at the short term dangers of a drug, heroin and crack cocaine are the most acutely dangerous. However, when we combine social, financial and long term effects of alcohol compared to heroin and crack, alcohol is by far more negatively impacting.

A study done by Lancet shows peer reviewed data on these findings.

MCDA modelling showed that heroin, crack cocaine, and metamfetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (part scores 34, 37, and 32, respectively), whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17, respectively). Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places.

2 – Drunk People Do Crazy Things

To say that drunk people do crazy things is a very broad statement and not backed by fact. Fact based reporting is important but for a second I would like everyone to look at their own experience.

How many times have you seen drunk groups of people (usually men) get in brawls? How many times have you heard of families being killed by drunk drivers? How many girls have been raped or beaten when their attacker had been drunk?

When considering all of the scenarios, alcohol does more damage than anything else.

Now for the facts.

The Damage Caused By Drunk Driving

CDC.gov reports that…

  • In 2012, 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
  • Of the 1,168 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2012, 239 (20%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • Of the 239 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2012, over half (124) were riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver.
  • In 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s one percent of the 112 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.
  • Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol.

The Relationship Between Alcohol and Sexual Assault

Conservative estimates of sexual assault prevalence suggest that 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault, including rape. Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors. Beliefs about alcohol’s effects on sexual and aggressive behavior, stereotypes about drinking women, and alcohol’s effects on cognitive and motor skills contribute to alcohol-involved sexual assault.

– National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

One half of sexual assaults involve alcohol. Those are very alarming statistics. Yet alcohol is celebrated within our culture. There is infinitely more money spent on TV advertising than money spent on sexual assault awareness and education courses.

The Relationship Between Alcohol and Violence

It is so easy for people to label addicts. We see young kids on the street and we call them junkies or losers. The criminalization of addiction presents its own unique set of problems, because many drug addicts are put in prison for victimless crimes. Many times drug addicts are locked away for non violent acts. Alcohol however, creates a hotbed for violence.

  • Alcohol contributes to 2/3 in spousal abuse cases. (That’s a fancy way to say that lots of men get drunk and beat up their wives of kids)
  • Published studies suggest that as many as 86% of homicide offenders, 37% of assault offenders, 60% of sexual offenders, up to 57% of men and 27% of women involved in marital violence, and 13% of child abusers were drinking at the time of the offense. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1997.
  • Alcohol availability is closely related to violent assaults. Communities and neighborhoods that have more bars and liquor stores per capita experience more assaults.

3 – Alcohol Use is Celebrated

For the sake of misinterpretation, let it be said once more that Sober Nation is not anti drinking. We are by no means claiming that people who drink are bad people. We are simply pointing out the contradiction of criminalizing people who are addicted to drugs like heroin and even marijuana, while simultaneously celebrating alcohol use. That doesn’t make any sense.

Anheuser-Busch spends $1.2 Billion dollars a year on TV advertising alone. Pressure to drink while socializing is very real, and is felt by everyone. Alcohol is by far the most abused drug in America. The problems we have listed are just the tip of the iceberg as to the dangers of alcohol.

alcohol advertisement
It is not hard to portray alcohol as a prerequisite for fun.

Beer companies spend a great deal of time and effort painting the picture that alcohol is necessary for a good time. Although difficult to quantify, know that this mindset keeps thousands of people from admitting they have a problem and getting the help they need. We know this because we talk to these people and their families, every day.

What’s The Point??

This is a difficult topic for us. It is not the responsibility of beer companies to fix these problems. They make a product and abide to business law and have the right to market and profit just like anyone else. The point is not to degrade alcohol companies or alcohol drinkers.

The point is to try and build some awareness. Alcohol isn’t like it is in the commercials. Most, if not all drinkers can easily recall experiences with vomiting, violence, blackouts, rape and homicide.

If we can somehow help people understand the truth behind alcohol, than maybe people would respect it more. Maybe people would know that two beers is better than 20, and that enjoying life is not dependent upon a bottle of vodka.

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