Alcohol

Alcohol is the most widely used substance in the U.S. Nearly half of all Americans over the age of 12 are consumers of alcohol. Alcohol is classed as a depressant, meaning that it slows down vital functions – resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly (The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, n.d). Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many health and social problems, such as unintentional injuries (e.g., motor accidents, drowning, falls, etc.), violence, cancer, alcohol poisoning, and alcohol dependence (CDC, 2018). Excessive alcohol use contributes to 88,000 deaths each year in the United States and includes both binge drinking and underage drinking (CDC, 2019).

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in which 90% of adults in the U.S. who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days (CDC, 2018). According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as consuming so much alcohol within a two hour time span that one’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reaches the legal limit of intoxication (0.08 g/dL). Typically, this can amount to 5 drinks for men, 4 drinks for women, and even fewer for those underage (NIAAA, 2017).

Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is responsible for about 5,000 deaths a year, alone (American Addiction Centers, 2017). In 2017, it was reported that over 7 million youth were current alcohol users, and 60% of teens across the nation had at least one drink before their eighteenth birthday (NSDUH, 2017).Youth who start drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence (MADD, 2019). Because the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, preventing underage drinking is extremely critical. In fact, alcohol has the following effects on teens that drink:

  • Reduction in cognitive function (memory, development of new brain cells, etc.)
  • Impaired decision making
  • Increased chances of engaging in risky behaviors
  • Reduction in the brain’s white matter (responsible for communication between cells)
  • Increased risks of weakening the immune system, heart complications, persistent brain damage, and early onset of dementia

Advocating for Excessive Alcohol Use Prevention

For information regarding how you can lend a hand in advocating for excessive alcohol use prevention, check out the tips and resources listed below:

Interventions for the General Public

Interventions Directed to Underage Drinkers

To learn more…

References

American Addiction Centers. (2017, August 29). Alcoholism. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from Alcohol.org website: https://www.alcohol.org/alcoholism/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, April 10). Prevention Status Report By State: Georgia. Retrieved April 20, 2019, from Public Health Professionals Gateway website: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/psr/?state=Georgia

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, January 3). Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. Retrieved April 20, 2019, from Alcohol and Public Health website: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, October 24). Fact Sheets – Binge Drinking. Retrieved April 20, 2019, from Alcohol and Public Health website: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

Community Preventive Services Task Force. (2015, May). What Works Fact Sheet: Preventing Excessive Alcohol Consumption, Evidence-Based Interventions for Your Community. Retrieved from https://www.thecommunityguide.org/sites/default/files/assets/What-Works-Alcohol-factsheet-and-insert.pdf

The Foundation for a Drug-Free World. (n.d). What is Alcohol? Retrieved April 20, 2019, from The Truth About Alcohol website: https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol.html

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018, July 11). Alcohol Use Disorder. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from Mayo Clinic website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243

Mothers Against Drunk Driving. (2019). Statistics. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from Mothers Against Drunk Driving website: https://www.madd.org/statistics/

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2017, February). Underage Drinking. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/UnderageDrinking/UnderageFact.htm

National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (2017). Slides Based on 2017 NSDUH Annual National Report. PowerPoint. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/slides-2017-nsduh-annual-national-report