According to new numbers released from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, deaths related to alcohol have doubled since 1999. The researchers report there have been almost 1 million alcohol-related deaths over the past two decades. Alcohol was to blame for 2.6% of deaths in 2017 alone.
Over half of these deaths can be attributed to liver disease or alcohol overdose.
While light alcohol intake is ok, there are more health concerns that can arise when one goes over the recommended daily intake. For women, this is one drink a day, while for men, it’s two drinks a day.
12 ounces of beer (5 percent alcohol content)
8 ounces of malt liquor (7 percent alcohol content)
5 ounces of wine (12 percent alcohol content)
1.5 ounces of a shot of 80 proof (40 percent alcohol content) liquor or spirit
Why has the rate of alcohol consumption gone up? That is difficult to say. But, what can be said is that the deaths have not discriminated, as there has been an increase in deaths across all age and ethnic groups.
Sure, a little alcohol can be a social lubricant, take the edge off a stressful day, or pair nicely with dinner or brunch, but how much is too much? And, when do you know when you’ve reached your limit? It’s a slippery slope.
I find that many patients use alcohol as a crutch or to numb their pain or loneliness or even drink out of habit. The best advice I give anyone is the message of moderation. And, if you have a real issue with alcohol and do not feel in control of your consumption, then it’s time to consider getting help. There are AA groups as well as therapists who specialize in alcohol abuse. There are also medications that can help you stop drinking.
If you believe you may have a problem with alcohol, talk to your medical provider and see how we can help.
Jeremiah Robinson is a licensed and certified Physician Assistant at T. Douglas Gurley MD in Atlanta, GA.