Alcohol abuse is never far from the front pages of our newspapers. But what are the facts surrounding alcohol consumption, abuse and addiction? Are the media blowing the problem out of all proportion in order to sell more advertising or is there really a serious epidemic of alcohol abuse in today’s society?
We decided to separate the fact from the fiction and, using only verified statistics and research, to curate the facts surrounding worldwide alcohol consumption. Read on for the pure unadulterated truth about alcohol use in the 21st century.
According to studies, 51% of adults now drink regularly, which contrasts starkly with the 12.9% of adults who class themselves as only infrequent drinkers. Interestingly men are twice as likely as women to drink alcohol on a daily basis and are 30% more likely to suffer alcohol-related injuries as a result. It is estimated that 23 million people in the EU alone now display alcohol dependence.
Alcohol in Minors
It’s not adults that are drinking more; alcohol is having ever more of an effect on children and teenagers. Research suggests that over 50% of 15 year olds have already had at least one alcohol drink, and by 17 that number has risen to 70%. Alcohol, it seems, is becoming ever more socially acceptable and it seems worrying how many underage drinkers are securing alcohol.
However the facts get worse. It seems that alcohol abuse by parents is a serious problem. At the time of writing, it is alleged that 2.6 million children currently live with a “hazardous drinker” who make take risks with their child’s safety.
Even babies in the womb aren’t safe from the effects of alcohol with a surprising number of mothers continuing to regularly consume alcohol against doctor’s recommendation. In Canada alone, 2700 babies are born each year with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – defined by Wikipedia as “a continuum of permanent birth defects”.
Alcohol and Crime
Alcohol may seem like harmless fun to many people but its link to serious crime is well-known. Alcohol’s ability to break down an individual’s normal inhibitions can increase the chances of them committing a crime when under its influence. For example 40% of violent crimes in the US each year take place under the influence of alcohol.
The risks of drink driving are well-known and yet it seems that the problems continue. An astonishing 1.4 million drink driving arrests are made in the US each year. Additionally 39% of all traffic deaths can be attributed to alcohol in one way or another.
Injury & Premature Death
Alcohol doesn’t just lead to driving-related injuries. In the UK, 1 in 16 of all hospital admissions can be attributed to alcohol. This amounts to over 2 million hospital beds per year filled thanks to alcohol abuse.
Within the US, there are 88,000 preventable deaths from alcohol-related causes each year. Furthermore the average alcohol-related death robs the individual of 30 years of life that they would have enjoyed if it weren’t for the alcohol-related event that led to their death.
Finally, it’s worth noting that while smoking is still the biggest risk factor for contributing to cancer, medical authorities now rank alcohol as the second biggest factor. Seeing as both drinking and smoking often go hand in hand, reducing alcohol consumption should be seen as just as important as quitting smoking for reducing the odds of contracting cancer in later life.