Alcohol Leads to Entirely Preventable Deaths

Alcohol glamour
Photo by cagkansayin/

Alcohol is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. That alone should give Americans pause next time they consider drinking. Yet, for some reason, alcohol is still consumed by a significant majority of the adult population. What is the scope of alcohol consumption in the U.S.? And what are some of the risks that people take every time they drink?

What is the Scope of Alcohol Consumption in the United States?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol consumption causes more preventable deaths than all other causes of preventable death except for smoking and obesity.

Also according to the NIAAA, about 86 percent of Americans 18 years old or older have consumed alcohol at least once in their lives. About 55 percent of adults drink alcohol at least monthly.

Woman drinking
                            Photo by kieferpix/

As for alcohol consumption to excess, the percentages for this are pretty high too. At least 26 percent of Americans 18 years old or older have drunk to excess at least once in the past month, with very heavy drinking being a monthly occurrence for about six percent of the adult population.

Given how common alcohol consumption is in the United States and how harmful it is, Americans must increase their awareness of the harm and dangers attendant with alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol seems almost to be a cultural aspect of American life, but it doesn't have to be. If Americans were more informed on the harmful effects of alcohol, fewer would drink, and far fewer would drink to excess.

Speaking of educational, informative data on the subject, the following is some information on what excessive drinking is, as well as some information on the short and long-term effects of consuming alcohol.

What is “Excessive” Drinking?

To begin the discussion of what counts as “excessive” drinking, it’s essential to start by saying that there is no level of drinking that is considered “safe” drinking. All forms of alcohol consumption carry some degree of risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking to excess leads to about 95,000 deaths each year (a larger number than the NIAAA reports). The CDC also reports that excessive drinking costs about $249 billion per year and is the direct cause of about 2.8 million years of potential life lost each year.

The CDC defines a “standard” drink as a beverage that contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Generally speaking, that amount of alcohol can be found in 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. That is the “standard drink.” While even consuming just one “drink” carries with it some risk, consuming several such drinks dramatically exacerbates that risk.

Excessive drinking refers, quite simply, to having too many drinks. Excessive drinking can refer to how much alcohol is consumed on any given day or to how many drinks are consumed throughout the week or month. It merely means drinking too much.

Binge drinking is a form of excessive drinking, and it refers to four or more drinks consumed by a woman on a single occasion or five or more drinks consumed by a man on a single occasion.

Heavy drinking is also a form of excessive drinking, and it refers to eight or more drinks per week for women or fifteen or more drinks per week for men.

The medical consensus is that alcohol does not have any health benefits, and those who are not currently drinking alcohol should not start drinking it, not for any reason.

What are the Risks of Alcohol Consumption?

Even without getting into the realm of alcohol addiction, just the act of drinking alcohol carries some risk and can have harmful effects. As soon as one begins drinking, even if they have no history of alcohol abuse, they take on considerable risk and open themselves and others up to potential danger and harm.

Some of the short-term health risks of drinking alcohol include:

  • Injuries. These include motor vehicle accidents, falls, accidents with heavy machinery, burns, cuts, drownings, accidents from attempting an extreme stunt, etc.
  • Violence. Alcohol consumption can elicit violent responses in some people. These can be verbal or physical, resulting in fights, homicide, assaults, sexual assault, suicide, brawls, and intimate partner violence.
  • Alcohol poisoning. A form of overdose, alcohol poisoning, is what happens when someone drinks too much alcohol on one occasion (binge drinking). Alcohol poisoning often requires emergency medical treatment and can be fatal.
  • Risky sexual behavior. One of the effects of alcohol is that it impairs judgment. Impaired judgment can lead to risky sexual behavior like unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, sexually transmitted infections, nonconsensual sex, unwanted pregnancies, etc.

Drinking to excess also creates long-term problems if excessive alcohol consumption is carried out over time. 

Some such long-term effects can include chronic illnesses and conditions such as:

  • Addiction. When people drink to excess continuously, they have gradually less control to the point where alcohol consumption is something they are addicted to, something they have no choice over.
  • Severe health conditions such as high blood pressure, various forms of heart disease, liver disease, stroke, and digestive problems.
  • Cancers of the breast, mouth, throat, liver, colon, and esophagus.
  • Cognitive, memory, and learning-related problems such as difficulty in school, struggling at work, and dementia and Alzheimer’s later on in life.
  • Social problems such as aggression, irritability, unreliability, depression, anxiety, etc.

Addiction Treatment - Helping People Break Free from Alcohol Addiction

Drinking to excess can easily lead to alcohol addiction, a crippling crisis of the mind and body that exerts a great deal of control over the individual’s day to day life. If you know someone addicted to alcohol, please do everything you can to help your loved one into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

Drug and alcohol rehab centers can offer the withdrawal and detoxification services needed to help address the physiological aspects of coming down off of alcohol. Such rehabs can also help recovering addicts get at the core of what caused them to start using alcohol in the first place, what hardships within their life they began using alcohol to cope with. With alcohol rehab, all aspects and facets of alcohol addiction can be appropriately addressed and resolved.

Don’t let your loved one go another day addicted to alcohol. Please contact Narconon today to take the first step towards getting your loved one help.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.