We’ve all become aware of the opioid epidemic that has spread throughout the country in recent years and that has been responsible for about 60,000 premature deaths annually in the United States.
The dangerous and deadly drug fentanyl, which often is laced into heroin, chiefly has been responsible for the rise in opioid overdoses.
However, we should not lose sight of the fact that alcohol abuse still rates as the number one health problem in the country, as it has for decades.
Here are a few statistics:
It is estimated that excessive drinking is responsible for 88,000 deaths per year in the United States, about one in 10 deaths among working-age adults. The cost in 2010 was almost $250 billion.
And drinking is a serious problem among adolescents. More than nine percent of those 12 to 17 years drink alcohol, and almost five percent engaged in binge drinking in the last month. Drinking in the teen years makes a person five times more likely to become an alcoholic than if they had waited to take their first drink after the age of 21.
For men, risky drinking is more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks in any week, according to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse. And for women, it’s more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks in any week. (The institute defines a drink as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirits.)
Among people aged 15 to 49, alcohol use is the single most common risk factor for death and disability. In 2016, alcohol accounted for 6.8 percent of male and 2.2 percent of female deaths.
Finally, alcoholic beverages are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans) — the same category as asbestos — with 3.6 percent of all cancer cases and 3.5 percent of cancer deaths worldwide being attributable to consumption of alcohol.
So here are a few ways to ensure that neither we nor our friends and loved ones become one of those statistics this summer:
1) If you are planning on going out for a night, leave the car at home and have your cell phone programmed to call an Uber. Drunk-driving lawyers say their business is way down thanks to Uber use by millennials — so be smart and plan ahead while you’re still sober and before you leave your house!
2) Friends don’t let friends drive drunk — take their keys and drive them home yourself or get them an Uber.
3) Do not drink and captain a boat — it IS against the law (just like drinking and driving a car) — and the risks to your passengers and other boaters on the water are huge if you are captaining under the influence.