You Drink, You Drive. You Lose

Driving Under the Influence

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The Dangers of Alcohol

Alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable mortality in the U.S., after tobacco and diet/activity patterns. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant, which can affect virtually every organ in the body, since it goes directly into the bloodstream. It lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, leading to unsafe behaviors, and eventually even death.

Alcohol has many side effects including altering your perceptions, dulling your senses, hindering coordination, and blocking memory functions. If you continue to use alcohol heavily, you could experience stomach ailments, sexual impotence, heart and central nervous system damage, loss of appetite, and blackouts.

When alcohol accumulates in your bloodstream, your errors will increase. Your reaction time slows down drastically, and you find that you are unable to control your vehicle, or other items, as you did prior to drinking. In addition, it creates a false sense of confidence- so you may not realize that you are out of control.

Drinking, even at moderate levels, can put you at risk for serious health and social problems. Alcohol interacts negatively with more than 150 medications, so check with your doctor or pharmacist prior to drinking any amount of alcohol, if you are taking any over the counter or prescription medication. The more heavily you drink, the greater the strain will be on your relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. It could even lead to the loss of your job or committing or being the victim of an act of violence.

If you have to ask yourself if you have a problem with alcohol, the chances are that you do. Many people use alcohol to escape from their problems, or to change their personalities. They have an inability to control their drinking, a high tolerance level for alcohol, and may suffer problems at work or in school as a result. If your family and friends are concerned about your problem, you should be too. It is a sad fact that an estimated 6.6 million children under the age of 18 live in households with at least one alcoholic parent.

You should also remember that alcoholism is just one of the diseases caused by alcohol. This disease can lead to others, such as cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. According to the NIAAA, "alcohol is typically found in the offender, victim or both in about half of all homicides and serious assaults, as well as in a high percentage of sex-related crimes, robberies, and incidents of domestic violence, and alcohol-related problems are disproportionately found among both juvenile and adult criminal offenders".

Help is available through the Alcoholics Anonymous organization. However, "alcohol-related problems are not likely to be reduced by strategies involving single interventions directed solely at the individual," says the NIAAA. "Economic, political, social and environmental forces that work together to encourage and perpetuate these problems must also be addressed."

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Article Sources

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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The Dangers of Alcohol