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Alcohol MD

Facts on Alcohol

Alcohol is a drug and, unless you're 21, it isn't legal.

But, you say, so what?

It's the fact that alcohol can change your brain, relaxing it's function to degrees that make you not who you really are and can even make your brain shut down your breathing mechanisms, that justifies keeping this drug away from kids. Alcohol can be much less fun than popular culture teaches us. It can make you do things you wouldn't normally do or want to do, like have sex, have unprotected sex, drive a car when your body can't react or your eyes can't see clearly, do other drugs, talk mean to people that you care about, get into fights, or even not stand up for yourself when you should. Many people get into trouble with authorities or do crimes while they are drinking alcohol.

But, you say, not me, I like it and it doesn't effect my life like that.

Alcohol can be addicting and not everyone knows who will be addicted or when it will come. Some people are able to drink and stop, some keep drinking casually for years, and some develop a dependence on alcohol just like with any addictive drug. It can literally take over their lives. Who will be next? The younger you start drinking, the more likely you are to become addicted, an alcoholic, gotta have it.

Alert! If there is someone in your family who has had a problem with alcohol, you are at much greater risk to have problems, too! Don't risk it, it's not worth it!

Alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable mortality in the US, after tobacco and diet/activity patterns.

But, you say, I heard that alcohol has health benefits so how can it be so bad?

While it's true that many studies have concluded that moderate amounts of alcohol (especially wine) may have health benefits like protection from heart disease, there is enough cause for concern that many of these reports suggest that restriction to moderation is the key. They also advise NOT to start drinking! The latest report from the U.S. Dietary Guidelines says that a moderate amount of alcohol for an ADULT is one or two drinks for a man and one drink for a woman. But even this amount should only be used responsibly, with caution, and not as an excuse to start drinking!

Costs of Abusing Alcohol

According to the National Council on Alcoholism, alcohol dependence costs society approximately 116 billion dollars annually in medical complications, lost productivity and legal costs. A study examining the relationship of alcohol consumption and health care expenditures found that individuals with a history of heavy drinking had higher health care costs than moderate and non-drinkers.

Alcohol problems are the leading cause of lost work production, domestic problems and industrial accidents. Since a large proportion of crimes involve alcohol, legal costs from criminal prosecutions also contribute to the high societal cost of abusing alcohol.

In the United States, alcohol-related automobile crashes alone cost the general public more than $110,000 billion in 1998. These alcohol-related crashes account for 16% of U.S. auto insurance expenses. Reducing these accidents by a mere 10% would amount to a savings of $3 billion.