Despite denials (and marketing) to the contrary, there’s no doubt about it! The most dangerous and deadly drug is still the most advertised, the most popular, the most accessible, and the most legal. Alcohol! And due to the deadly combo—legal, marketing and easy availability—stats show that there are way more drinkers than users of any other kind of drug.
Researchers have analyzed how addictive certain drugs are, their effects and the ways they harm the human body. They also studied other factors, like environmental damage caused by drugs, their role in ruining lives, breaking-up families and the direct and indirect economic costs such as health care, social services and prison.
Undisputedly, alcohol outranked all other drugs. Followed by heroin, crack cocaine, opioids, marijuana, ecstasy and LSD. It’s a statistical fact! Alcohol kills more people than all drugs combined. While the clichéd “War on Drugs” usually spotlights drugs like heroin and cocaine, it fails to mention that alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths per year. All other drugs combine to contribute to 20,000 deaths per year.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) alcohol is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death for people living in the USA. An estimated 76 million people in the world have some form of alcohol dependency and 10 percent of Americans have an alcohol problem.
Recent stats show that alcohol is responsible for 32 percent of traffic deaths, 50 percent of homicides, 40 percent of assaults and 68 per cent of trauma center visits.
1. Health risks
People who drink heavily have a greater risk of, especially, liver disease. Alcohol also creates other bad health problems and can lead to death. Heart disease (high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes). High blood fats/triglycerides. Bleeding from the stomach. Several types of cancers, like liver, breast, mouth, esophagus and throat cancer. Depression. Sleep disorders. And sexually transmitted infections.
2. Killing the liver
By far the highest number of alcohol-related deaths come from some form of liver disease. Alcohol is cruel because it kills people slowly. Most alcohol related deaths caused by liver problems happen after years of alcohol use. Most of the time, alcohol leads to three common types of liver problems: Alcohol Hepatitis causes the liver to swell and become damaged. Up to 35 percent of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis. Alcoholic Cirrhosis is the scaring of the liver which leads to poor liver function. It is the last stage of chronic liver disease. Fatty Liver Disease is the build-up of extra fat in liver cells.
3. The immune system
Alcohol weakens the immune system and makes the body an easier target for chronic diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis. Alcohol drastically slows the body’s ability to ward-off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
4. Drunk driving
Driving under the influence is an enormous and deadly fact of alcohol. According to the CDC, nearly one-third of all fatal road accidents in the US are caused by alcohol. On average, this means drunk driving kills one American every 51 minutes. The total cost of all this carnage is estimated at over $59 billion, annually.
Drinking too much increases the chances of being injured or killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60 percent of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides.
6. Birth defects
Drinking during pregnancy has been proven to cause brain damage and other serious problems for the baby. Doctors warn about alcohol during pregnancy causing fetal alcohol syndrome and caution about the dangers of alcohol for pregnant women.
7. Child abuse and divorce
Alcohol causes depression, neurosis and various relationship problems. The toll alcoholism takes on a marriage is immense. Recent studies track a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and domestic violence, legal and financial problems, job loss, and sexual dysfunction. All of these issues can lead to divorce.
When it comes to child abuse, various reports find that children who have either one or two alcoholic parents are anywhere between 2 to 13 times more likely to experience abuse situations in the home. Known as adverse childhood experiences, these awful situations could be anything from living in forced squalor to seeing the mother get hit or being deliberately abused.
8. Teenage deaths
It’s blunt, documented and very scary! Every year, 4,300 U.S. teenagers die from directly or indirectly drinking alcohol, more than 70 times the number killed by other drugs like crack, ecstasy and crystal meth.
9. Sexual assault
Alcohol and sexual assault rates have a disturbing connection to one another. For a long time, experts have warned that more than half of all attackers committed sexual assaults were drunk, while half of all victims were also intoxicated. Conservative estimates of sexual assault incidences suggest that 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault, including rape. Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both.
10. Alcohol, violence and jail time
The police and the justice system have the documented proof! Alcohol creates a hotbed for violence. Alcohol triggers two out of three spousal abuse cases. An analysis of Illinois violent deaths showed that 40 percent of homicide victims had alcohol in their blood systems at the time of death. In contrast, 10 percent had cocaine and 3 percent were on opiates.
And then there’s jail time. Alcohol has been involved in more homicides than all other drugs combined. Surveys in prison have found that about 40 percent had been under the influence of alcohol during their offenses that landed them behind bars. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that as many as 86 percent of homicide offenders, 37 percent assault offenders, 60 percent of sexual offenders, around 57 percent of men and 27 percent of women involved in domestic violence, and 13 percent of child abusers were drinking at the time of the offense. The average incarcerated drinker has been three times above the legal limit when committing their crime, which includes murder, sexual assault, and domestic violence.