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The Costly Impact of Alcohol Poisoning and Excessive Drinking

The Costly Impact of Alcohol Poisoning & Excessive Drinking

Which age group is more likely to die from alcohol poisoning due to excessive drinking? Is it teenagers to young adults aged 15-24, young adults aged 25-34, or adults aged 35-64?

With a culture of underage drinking and binge drinking in college, one might think the answer is teens to young adults. While this population is more likely to binge drink, a recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that men, aged 35-64 are the most common age group to die from alcohol poisoning due to excessive drinking. 

Every year, there are approximately 2,200 alcohol-poisoning deaths in the U.S., and out of that death toll, about 76 percent are men and 24 percent are women. These alarming death tolls from alcohol poisoning are the ripple effects of excessive drinking and costs society a fortune.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?  

Alcohol poisoning causes severe impairment from excessive drinking that is life threatening. When a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level spikes or doubles above the norm of .08 or more, the person has already reached their limit of alcohol intake and is experiencing extreme impairment.  

One might experience the following severe impairments from alcohol poisoning:

  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting 
  • Slow/irregular breathing
  • Inability to wake up (blackout)
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)

When not treated in a timely manner, the above effects can be life threatening and lead to death. On average, six people die every day in the U.S. due to alcohol poisoning. 

How Excessive Drinking Takes Its Toll 

Excessive drinking is defined by four or more drinks for women, and five or more drinks for men in one occasion or a short period of 2-3 hours, while the largest number of drinks averages about 8 per binge. 

According to the CDC, working-aged adults and middle-aged men with disposable income are more likely to drink excessively. This has a massive socioeconomic effect on family members, friends and coworkers who are subject to “secondhand drinking”. 

Social concerns 

Secondhand drinking is the ripple effect on others caused by one’s drinking behaviors such as struggling within the family dynamic, weakening relationships with loved ones and friends, or a lack of productivity at work or responsibility with other obligations. This person’s inability to control their behaviors negatively affects family and friends and can be emotionally and financially draining. 

Economic concerns 

Drinking behaviors such as domestic violence, DUIs, and alcohol-related car accidents are also detrimental to taxpayers and the community because of the economic costs on society. On average, the effects from excessive drinking costs the U.S. economy $224 billion a year, which is about $746 per person.

Health concerns 

While binge drinking is excessive drinking, believe it or not, those who binge drink are usually not alcoholics, they just tend to drink more on any given occasion. This excessive drinking puts individuals more at risk for alcohol poisoning as their condition worsens over time. 

Excessive alcohol consumption greatly contributes to the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Digestion problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Mental health issues (anxiety and depression)
  • Cancer (breast, mouth, liver)

As the third leading cause of preventable deaths, excessive drinking caused about 88,000 reported deaths per year in a 4-year period, and that number is more than likely underestimated due to self-reporting. 

Efforts to Reduce Excessive Drinking

With the new Affordable Care Act, more people are now able to receive assessments for alcoholism and counseling. State and local communities are banning together to provide more outreach programs and change policies to reduce binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. 

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) hosts an annual Alcohol Awareness Month in April. Throughout the country, local, state, and national organizations spread awareness throughout communities to reduce excessive drinking.

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