A new study in America shows that annual trips to hospital emergency rooms due to alcohol abuse is dramatically on the rise, up 61 percent in number of visits from 2009 to 2016. This study was published in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research journal. Though the study shows the frequency of emergency room visits to have greatly risen in the past 9 years, the study authors, 4 out of 5 of whom work at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, are perplexed as to the reasoning behind why and how this statistic has grown so much.
The study gave evidence of a 2 percent increase in alcohol use per capita, a number seemingly insubstantial against the increased percentage of emergency room visits. Not to mention, the study found that the national rate of binge drinking had not increased, a figure that surely would have been linked to more emergency medical treatment needed due to alcohol abuse. It seems that many people are not considering how alcohol affects the brain and body, and are letting irresponsible drinking get the better of them.
Another confounding statistic of the study is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women who required hospitalization due to alcohol abuse. In the past, this statistic was dominated by men, along with drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, and binge drinking. However, in the past 9 years, it seems women are closing the gender gap in these statistics with more and more women showing signs of alcohol abuse.
The data for this study came from 33 states, including Washington, D.C., and included 945 hospitals. This is a good, broad range to look at when gathering statistics. People don’t generally ask themselves ‘Is alcohol a drug?’ It is a legal substance across most of the world and is therefore considered to be safe. But there is a great deal more to alcohol than may at first meet the eye.
Alcohol is a legal substance known to make people feel relaxed, have less stress and just let loose. It is commonly used for pleasure in social gatherings and celebrations. It gives people a feeling of ease and helps to break the ice. However, the effects of alcohol on your body start the moment you have your first drink. These effects can range from quite mild to very intense depending on the amount you drink and the frequency with which you do it.
Alcohol exists in almost every area and culture throughout the world. It is a part of the many histories and cultures we have on this planet. In some countries, it is used in ceremonies and rituals, it is used for celebrating almost any occasion, and in others, it is simply a part of daily life. Because it is frequently seen and is accepted in such a widespread area, it has become one of the most commonly abused substances in the world.
When taking a closer look at how alcohol affects the brain and body, you can see that alcohol is a dangerous substance that can cause great harm to the body. Though it may seem harmless in small quantities, the lure of having more and more to drink can become strong, leading to potential dangers and bodily harm. The thing to remember when drinking alcohol is to be temperate. Temperance in alcohol consumption is the difference between low and high-risk situations. A low-risk situation would be a person having a glass of wine or one beer with dinner. A high-risk situation would be a bought of binge drinking that goes on for hours causing judgment to be altered and bodily function and decision-making skills to be decreased. Another point to consider is that alcohol affects every person differently, though binge drinking and regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol is harmful to anyone.
Alcohol is a drug, and as such it has very harmful effects on the body. In the brain, alcohol affects the communication pathways and can even cause changes in the size of the brain due to cellular shrinkage. This makes it difficult for people to think clearly as it affects memory function and motor skills, mood, and behaviors. A person currently under the influence of alcohol will slur their speech, sway or appear to have little control over their movements and functions, and will usually act differently than normal. To the heart, alcohol can cause stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmias or worse. The liver is greatly affected as well. From general inflammation to cirrhosis of the liver, this organ takes a big hit with the over-consumption of alcohol. Alcohol also drops the immune system leaving you susceptible to illness for up to 24 hours after consumption. Habitual drinkers are also more likely to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than non-drinkers. To top it all off, alcohol abuse can lead to many types of cancers, like mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver cancers as well as an increased risk of breast cancer for women.
With so many daunting and dangerous side effects commonly known about alcohol, it would seem that the rates for emergency room visits would decrease. With more and more people in today’s world becoming health conscious and awareness of alcohol-related problems growing to new heights, it seems a reverse statistic would be more accurate. However well known, the seemingly pleasurable effects of alcohol are still desired and sought out by many as the lure of fun or the grasp of addiction take hold of individuals.
In the end, it would appear that more information on the effects of alcohol needs to be taught and distributed so that the rate of visits to the emergency room due to alcohol abuse can be reversed. Once awareness of the detrimental effects of alcohol abuse are known, it can be used responsibly to enhance social gatherings and help people have fun. But, if the fun gets out of hand and regular alcohol use turns into addiction, help should be sought out right away.