How pervasive is alcohol consumption in America? According to a 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 70% of those 18 years or older reported they drank alcohol in the past year with 55.3% admitting they consumed alcohol in the past month.
So, what’s the big deal?
Alcohol is the leading cause of premature death and disability among people aged 15-49 years.
A huge worldwide analysis published in 2018 in the prestigious journal Lancet concluded that the intake level for lack of harm was zero grams of alcohol per day. In the Lancet editorial accompanying that article, two experts compared alcohol-related harms with tobacco-related harms, and stated “These diseases of unhealthy behaviors…are the dominant health issue of the 21st century.” Strong words in the era of Ebola and coronavirus.
In addition to the wreckage alcohol can create with relationships, careers and, of course, car crashes, alcohol also can lead to the tragic and untimely loss of life. In fact, accidents involving alcohol are the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
Alcohol’s impact on health is serious and significant: though well known to harm the liver, it also damages the heart, lungs and pancreas AND is a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). It also can take a terrible toll on the brain.