Social drinking is a fact of life in our society. Because April has been designated Alcohol Awareness Month, it is a good time to consider the realities of alcohol, to evaluate personal habits, and to raise awareness about some of the ill effects of drinking to benefit overall health.
Alcohol consumption is widespread and accepted at all levels of society. Even though its consumption was once legally prohibited in this country, alcohol was always available even if only via illicit means. Today, it is rare to find a public place or event that does not serve alcohol. Its consumption tends to be largely ignored until it involves some sort of accident or abuse.
Increasingly, disturbing claims about alcohol point to problems it can cause, such as family instability and social rejection. Alcoholism can lead to financial strain, mental and physical harm, and even abuse in the home.
Alcohol is, however, big business. Nearly 90% of adults confirm alcohol consumption at some point during their lives. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 56% of adults drank alcohol within the past month in 2012, and nearly 25% of adult drinkers admitted to one or more instances of binge drinking. Approximately 17 million people were classified as having an “alcohol use disorder,” or AUD. The facts of underage drinking even include these sobering statistics: More than 9 million underage drinkers in 2012 admitted to consuming at least one drink during the previous month, and among the 18-22 age group, the overall percentage of drinkers was slightly greater than 50%, but climbed above 60% among college students.
Among youth aged 12 to 17, the NIH study characterized an estimated 3.4% (885,000) as having an AUD. Another small 2014 study of homeless, alcohol-dependent patients in New York reported that 100 percent started drinking as children.
The statistics are solemn, but the personal stories can be heart-wrenching. Our professional staff conducts a community workshop on grief issues aimed specifically towards counselors and social workers.
Alcohol’s Adverse Effects
While “enjoying a drink” is very much a part of many social, cultural, and religious traditions, it also can cause behavioral difficulties, impaired performance and judgment, physical addiction, job problems, malnutrition, obesity, and a wide range of health problems. When the substance is abused, its consumption has been linked to automobile accidents and fatalities, domestic violence, sexual assault, crime, abuse of all types, on-the-job injuries, and decreased productivity. All states have limits on legal blood alcohol limits for drivers, and many professions severely restrict alcohol use by employees—notably doctors, nurses, and pilots.
Time to Bring Awareness
As responsible citizens and caring adults, we at Schoedinger Funeral Home think that the time has come to talk openly about alcohol. We want to continue the conversation about both responsible drinking and about alcohol abuse. and April is a perfect time to begin.
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