Although smoking cigarettes is directly related to a greater number of deaths, alcohol undoubtedly causes more misery. The health and social cost of alcohol abuse are staggering-fatalities, medical bills, lost work, and family problems. Alcohol is one of the three main causes of death in modern societies. Some 18 million Americans have a serious drinking problem, and about 10 million are alcoholics. Alcohol abuse and dependence is three times more prevalent in males than in females. And people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely than those who begin later to become alcoholics.
Alcohol can damage virtually every organ in the body, but it is especially harmful to the liver and is a major cause of cirrhosis, which kills 26,000 people each year. Alcohol can cause stomach problems such as indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, and ulcers.
One-half of long-term, heavy drinkers suffer damage to their skeletal muscles, and one-third sustain damage to their heart muscle. Alcohol increases the risk of many cancers, including cancer of the liver, mouth, throat, tongue, and voice box.
C.T. scans show brain shrinkage in a high percentage of alcoholics, even in young people and in those who appear to be intact mentally. Moreover, healthy drinking can cause cognitive impairment and seizures. The only good news in recent studies is that some of the effects of alcohol on the brain seem to be partially reversible with prolonged abstinence.
In 1956, the American Medical Association declared that alcoholism is a disease and that it is treatable.
You probably think of inoperable cancer or severe emphysema as fatal diseases, but not addiction. However, addiction can be as fatal. Toxic effects of constant alcohol use can cause death through medical complications, such as liver disease and heart failure. Other addiction-related causes of death include strokes, heart attacks, and respiratory arrests. Most deaths related to addiction involve a traumatic event.
Many of us know first-hand. We have lost family members or friends as a result of alcohol and drug-related medical problems, car accidents or suicide. You may have had serious suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide. Maybe you have been involved in domestic violence where you or someone you know was at risk for permanent injury or death. Perhaps you have lost friends or acquaintances to a drug overdose, AIDS, or some other disease as a result of intravenous drug use.
It's something to think about! Chase your dreams, not drugs!
Warren Wade #31735
St. Marys Correctional Center