Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dying for a drink: The alcohol death toll this weekend by the numbers... it's way more than impaired driving

Now that Halloween is out of the way (a huge drinking holiday when it falls on a weekend, by the way) it's time to get to a real-life scary story. (Read the enitre article online) By the numbers, alcohol is going to claim more lives this weekend than any other drug – in fact, more than all of the illicit drugs combined. Recent news items have focused on the $250 billion annual cost to the U.S. in hard-dollar expenditures and lost productivity. The death toll is a more human, and more frightening, story. In a single weekend, there are:
  • 15 alcohol overdoses – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Vital Signs puts it starkly: 2,200 die every year from drinking too much, too fast. Very high levels of alcohol – a central nervous system depressant drug – shut down the brain's control of critical body functions, leading to death for an average of six people every day. (Watch The Sobriety :60+).
  • 43 murders – According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) report Alcohol and Crime, for more than four in 10 convicted murderers, being held either in jails (43.7 percent) or in state prisons (41.4 percent), alcohol use is reported to have been a factor in the crime. The younger generations are the most at risk: 95 percent of all violent crime on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).
  • 75 “unintentional” deaths – Theses are falls, drug interactions, fires, suffocation/choking and drowning deaths. They account for 22,000 deaths every year… half of them involve alcohol use. As cited in alcoholism recovery book, Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, "58 percent of fire fatalities have alcohol in their systems, which presumably kept them from fleeing safely and 45 percent of drownings are alcohol-related.”
  • 110 car wreck fatalities – A little under one in three fatal car wrecks is alcohol-related (31 percent). Sometimes, it's a single-car accident with only one occupant: The impaired driver. Fate doesn't always work that way. While tragic for the family of that driver, media attention usually shines the spotlight on the unimpaired victims of an impaired driver. From 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday, 110 people die on an average weekend as a result of drinking and driving. The numbers are higher the weekends between Thanksgiving and New Year's… slightly lower the rest of the year… and 15 percent lower on weekdays.
  • 136 cancer deaths – Approximately 560,000 people died from cancer in 2009, the year for which the researchers analyzed alcohol-related cancer death rates in a related article. Of those deaths, nearly 20,000 were caused by alcohol-linked cancers. Breast cancer accounted for the most common alcohol-related cancer deaths among women, contributing to 15 percent of all breast-cancer deaths. Among men, cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus accounted for the most alcohol-linked cancer deaths.
  • 227 liver disease deaths – Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States, but it isn't a synonym for another disease: Alcoholism. Alcohol use, not necessarily alcohol dependence, is the primary cause of all liver diseases including cirrhosis. The amount of alcohol that can injure the liver varies greatly from person to person. In women, as few as two to three drinks per day have been linked with cirrhosis and in men, as few as three to four drinks daily. By CDC records, in 2013, there were 71,713 total liver disease deaths among individuals aged 12 and older and 46.4 percent involved alcohol. Among males, 48.9 percent of the 46,240 liver disease deaths involved alcohol. Among females, 42.7 percent of the 25,433 liver disease deaths involved alcohol.
Ignoring even more alcohol-related deaths from stroke and heart disease (no, alcohol is not hearth healthy, see 2014 Examiner article) that is an average of one alcohol related death every six minutes from quitting time Friday until wake-up time Monday. The weekend total: 606. The number preventable: 606.

Visit for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be fou.nd on, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today