April is alcohol awareness month

Every year, in the month of April, we try to raise awareness towards alcohol and the potential harmful effects it can have on individuals. Although moderate alcohol consumption can be beneficial to health (some amount of beer can help the kidneys, while one or two glasses of wine have been proved to have several benefits), alcohol intoxication and dependency are some of the most serious concerns. In fact, according to Statista, there were a staggering amount of 3.3 million alcohol-related deaths in 2018 worldwide. That amounts to 5.9% of all deaths. While that is already worrying, you may be shocked to find out that 25% (1 in 4!?!) of all deaths among youngsters (20-39 years-old) are related to alcohol. While alcohol poisoning is one potential cause of death, there are also cases of drunk driving or alcohol related crimes, accidents or alcohol induced chronic disease.

Drunk driving in New Jersey and worldwide

The number of car crash fatalities would be almost cut in half if there were no cases of drunk driving. That is the case for most of the country, including New Jersey. While in other states, we’ve seen improvement over time, in New Jersey there has been an increase in the percentage of car crash fatalities connected to alcohol consumption. More than 40% of all car crash fatalities state wide happen when the drivers involved have a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.01. Several studies worldwide have shown that drivers with increased blood alcohol levels have a much higher risk of accidents. In fact, it has been shown that the risk of accidents is up to 12 times higher than for drivers with no alcohol in their system.

Partying irresponsibly comes at high costs, not just in terms of lives, but also in terms of finances. Health care costs due to alcohol, as of 2017, in the US, were $27bn, according to Statista. Incidentally, that is still about 6 times lower than the costs associated with tobacco consumption, but almost 3 times higher than those related to illicit drugs consumption.

Alcohol and teenagers

Although buying alcohol under the age of 21 is not legal, we would be naïve to believe that some, if not most, teenagers don’t occasionally engage in serious and potentially dangerous drinking habits. By the age of 18, 60% of American teenagers have had at least one drink. On one hand there is the peer pressure to take into account; on the other, there is the desire to experience new things.

Unfortunately, if occasional drinking turns into a habit at a young age, it can do more damage than in the case of adults. Teenagers are still developing both mentally and physically as they are defining their personality. Regular alcohol abuse can hinder that development, with troubling effects at a later age. According to a study published by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, early drinking was associated with developing alcohol dependence more quickly and at younger ages. In the unfortunate case of kids trying out drinking even before the age of 14, the study shows they are 5 times more likely to become alcoholics than those who wait until 21 to enjoy their first drink.

This is why in April, at Agile Urgent Care in New Jersey, we want to send a strong message that drinking responsibly can save your life, as well as the life of others. It also helps you have a healthy, normal social life.

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