In the 21st century, alcoholic beverages play a major role in people's lives. Alcohol is consumed with meals, served for medicinal or religious purposes, used to celebrate special occasions and served as a social facilitator. Alcoholism is the popular terminology used for two disorders, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
The hallmarks of both these disorders involve repeated life problems that can be directly attributed to the use of alcohol. Both these disorders can have serious consequences, affecting an individual's health and personal life, as well as having an impact on society at large.
Both alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence can cause many different types of problems that can disrupt a person’s life. They include health, emotional, social, work or school, and financial problems. The health problems top the chart. The short term effects of alcohol on the body can be observed in the form of headache; upset stomach; diarrhea; lack of coordination and judgment and insomnia. There some comparatively more serious health problems attributed to alcohol abuse that can even lead to death. These long term health issues comprise of liver problems such as liver damage, hepatitis, cirrhosis and cancer; suppression of immune system leading to infections; high blood pressure; heart diseases; problems of the stomach, lungs, kidneys, skin, muscles and bones; mental disorders; impotency in men and infertility in both genders.
It has been medically observed that a certain intake of regular light to moderate drinking has beneficiary implications on coronary heart disease. However, by large alcohol use is related to a wide variety of negative health outcomes including morbidity, mortality and disability. Research on alcohol related morbidity and mortality takes into account the varying effects of overall alcohol consumption and drinking patterns. The results indicate that alcohol use increases the risk for many chronic health consequences such as liver cirrhosis and acute consequences such as accidents. According to data furnished by the National Center for Health Statistics, alcohol induced causes are responsible for 19,170 deaths per year, 1,597 per month, 368 per week, 52 per day and 2 per hour in the United States. The mortality data from NCHS highlights alcohol as a contributing factor on an average of 40% of all death certificates that reported liver cirrhosis as the underlying cause of death.
Alcohol related mortality is studied more frequently than alcohol related morbidity. The first global study of alcohol related morbidity and mortality clearly indicated that alcohol causes a larger proportion of global disability than global mortality. It was also found that whereas 1.5 percent of all deaths were attributable to alcohol; 6 percent of all life years lost to disability was attributable to alcohol as well. Unfortunately, even in developed countries, data collected on mortality is comparatively higher than the data on disability because mortality is easier to quantify and data recording is required by law. Unlike the registration of deaths, there is no routine registration of disability, which would allow relatively easy access for research purposes, linking other data such as alcohol use to disability endpoints.
For a US population of more than 270 million people, there are around 2.5 million deaths annually. More than 80 studies have investigated the relationship between a person’s average volume of alcohol consumption and alcohol related mortality. The patterns of research have undoubtedly linked light, moderate and heavy levels of alcohol consumption to increased and sometimes decreased risk for morbidity and mortality related to more than 60 disease conditions. Alcohol causes disease and death; even then the desire of consuming it does not decrease in many!
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