Did you know that one in every 20 deaths is tied to the harmful effects of alcohol? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016 over 3 million people died as a result of alcohol abuse. Adding to these grim statistics, alcohol abuse and misuse is responsible for over 5% of the total disease burden worldwide.
Alcohol Misuse and Abuse Affects Every Corner of the Globe
In 2018 the WHO issued a global status report on alcohol and health that illuminates the myriad of ways in which alcohol adversely affects individuals without regard for race, gender or socioeconomic status. The report also addresses the steps that have been taken to reduce the burden of excessive alcohol consumption.
According to the WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke. It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies.”
The Harmful Effects of Alcohol
The WHO’s report states that nearly one third or 28% of all alcohol-related deaths were the result of an injury incurred from self-harm, interpersonal violence, or traffic crashes. Approximately one-fifth of such deaths, or 21%, were attributed to digestive disorders, and 19% due to cardiovascular disease. The remainder of alcohol-related deaths were due to cancer, infectious disease, mental health issues, and other health conditions.
It is estimated that 46 million women and 237 million men worldwide live with an alcohol-use disorder. Alcohol-use disorders are more prevalent in high-income countries, with Europe and the Americas reporting the highest incidences. As a result, the overall rate of disease and injuries due to the harmful effects of alcohol is unacceptably high.
Worldwide Alcohol Consumption
Presently, the WHO estimates that roughly 2.3 billion people are current alcohol users, with the highest per capita consumption occurring in Europe. Specifically, current drinking rates are highest among European teenagers between 15 and 19 years of age, reaching a total of 44%. The Americas and the Western Pacific are in second place worldwide, with drinking rates at 38% among the same population. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption rates are expected to rise in the next 10 years, with the sharpest increases in the Americas and South-East Asia.
Research indicates that alcohol use begins before the age of 15 in many countries. Additionally, data indicate that 27% of teenagers between 15 and 19 years of age globally consume alcohol. Conversely, some studies have suggested that 57% of the population aged 15 years and older worldwide had abstained from alcohol consumption in their previous years.
What’s the Typical Alcohol Consumption Amount?
The average amount of alcohol consumed daily among drinkers is 33 grams of pure alcohol. This number is approximately equivalent to one large bottle of beer, 2 glasses of wine, or two shots of spirits.
Spirits account for nearly half (45%) of overall global alcohol consumption, with beer in second place (34%), and wine in third (12%).
The WHO notes that, globally, only minor changes in alcoholic beverage preference have occurred in the last decade, the most noticeable of which took place in Europe. There, wine and beer consumption rates increased while spirits consumption decreased.
Taking Action Against the Harmful Effects of Alcohol Consumption
Vladimir Poznyak, of the WHO’s Management of Substance Abuse unit, remarked, “All countries can do much more to reduce the health and social costs of the harmful use of alcohol. Proven, cost-effective actions include increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans, or restrictions on alcohol advertising, and restricting the physical availability of alcohol.” Such policies are more likely to be introduced in higher-income countries.
While 95% of countries have alcohol excise taxes in place, less than half of them use other pricing policies, such as outlawing the use of volume discounts or below-cost selling. Nonetheless, most countries enact some sort of restrictions on beer advertising.
Still, the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has additional goals he would like to see brought to fruition. “We would like to see Member States implement creative solutions that will save lives, such as taxing alcohol and restricting advertising. We must do more to cut demand and reach the target set by governments of a 10% relative reduction in consumption of alcohol globally between 2010 and 2025.”
Don’t Hesitate to Get the Help You or a Loved One May Need
Are you or a loved one struggling with the negative effects of alcohol use and/or drug addiction? If so, don’t put off getting help another day. It is possible to achieve long-term recovery and you don’t have to do it alone.
Starbent Recovery is a substance abuse and mental health treatment facility with proven experience in helping people achieve recovery. At Starbent, we believe that anyone can have a healthy and happy life, so long as they are given proper support. As such, our professionals are dedicated to working directly with each person that walks through our doors towards creating an individualized treatment plan that directly meets their goals. To learn more about our tiered programs and services, call us today, at (800) 673-0176.