Twenty-six episodes of ‘The A-Files’ will run throughout Alcohol Awareness Month on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alcohologist.com and AddictedMinds.com, among other web and social media sites. Episode L is on life expectancy: Alcohol consumption of two or more drinks a day shaves 10 to 12 years off life expectancy. That’s from the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. More moderate use, cuts at least 12 months from how long you’ll live. A.D.A.M.’s 10-12 years is the conservative estimate by the way: A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005 found that alcohol use shortens lives by at least 30 years.
Alcohol use will affect the body in so many ways that researchers have a hard time specifying exactly what the life expectancy consequences are from drinking. Drinking is associated with earlier death. However, it is not just from a higher risk of the more common serious health problems, such as heart attack, heart failure, diabetes, lung disease, or stroke. Other ways alcohol cuts life expectancy:
- People who drink regularly have a higher rate of death from violence. Half of all murders are alcohol-related.
- Alcohol overdose can lead to death and can interaction with other medications. Alcohol overdose doesn’t just stem from any one heavy drinking incident, but also may occur from a constant infusion of alcohol into the bloodstream.
- Severe withdrawal and delirium tremens (DTs). Delirium tremens occurs in about five percent of alcoholics attempting to quit. It includes progressively severe withdrawal symptoms and altered mental states. In some cases, it can be fatal. Alcohol withdrawal is one of only two drug withdrawals that can kill you. The other drug class is benzodiazepines. Heroin addicts may think their withdrawal is going to kill them, but alcohol withdrawal will.
- Alcohol use directly harms many areas in the body to produce dangerous health conditions related to liver damage, heart damage, pancreatitis, anemia, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, nerve damage, and visible brain damage.
- Alcohol users who need surgery have an increased risk of postoperative complications, including infections, bleeding, insufficient heart and lung functions, and problems with wound healing. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms after surgery may also delay recuperation.
Alcohol also plays a huge role in household accidents, drownings, a third of car-crash fatalities, and half of all suicides. It’s the third-leading cause of preventable death… not in some depressed and undereducated locale, but here, in the U.S., taking one life every 10 seconds.