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1 in 10 Premature Deaths in America Attributed to Excessive Alcohol Use

Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio Says the Effects of Even Casual Alcohol Use Aren’t Worth the Health and Addiction Risk

 

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published last week in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, found that 1 in 10 deaths among American adults aged 20-64 are attributed to excessive alcohol use.

The report went on to say that excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths per year from 2006 to 2010, and cut short the lives of those who died by about 30 years. Some deaths, from breast cancer, liver disease and heart disease, were due to drinking too much over time. Other deaths were attributed to consuming too much alcohol in a short period of time, with results such as violence, alcohol poisoning and automobile accidents.

Even though some reports tout the benefits of alcohol on the heart, the overwhelming evidence shows that alcohol is dangerous and deadly. Addictions as a whole mainly involve ‘The Big Three:’ alcohol, tobacco and food, and are the No. 1 killers in the country. Alcohol itself is usually listed as second or third on the killer list. But many of the top two causes of death—heart disease and cancer—are a direct result of or have strong ties to alcohol use.

The medicinal or beneficial aspects people associate with having a drink after a stressful day of work, parenting or life in general are a result of the relaxation of the cardiovascular system. Alcohol does work as a tranquilizer or sedative to lower the heart rate and blood pressure. But research clearly shows the dangerous effects of alcohol on every system of the body. Even though it brings acute relief, alcohol accelerates the arrival of death.

Having a drink every day, or even several times a week, usually isn’t beneficial. Using alcohol frequently can be a dangerous sign that it has become a prominent coping mechanism. Two problems exist: 1) alcohol can be addicting for many, therefore, instead of making a situation better, it actually worsens the quality of life, often leading to catastrophic physical, psychological and spiritual damage; and 2) using alcohol interferes with the ability and opportunity to engage with the Holy Spirit and to fully lean on the Bible—God’s ultimate instruction manual- for acute and lasting stress management

These statistics and warnings are not for the chronic hardcore, daily drinking, homeless drunk. But many who use alcohol in a casual manner are putting a toxin into their bodies and dealing with the cumulative effect of that toxin on their brains and all of their systems. These cumulative effects are dangerous, but the acute effects are deadly as well. The top three killers of those under 21 are car accidents, homicides and suicides. And alcohol can play a prominent role in all three.

In total, the report found, 2.5 million years of potential life were lost each year due to excessive alcohol use. CDC representatives also reported excessive alcohol use as a leading cause of preventable death among Americans in the prime of life, and also called the effects of alcohol abuse on American adults “shocking.”

Excessive alcohol use is defined as binge drinking, or consuming four to five or more drinks in one sitting; heavy drinking, which is eight or more drinks a week for women and 15 or more for men; or any alcohol use by those who are pregnant or under the age of 21.

Lighthouse Network works to develop a practical understanding of stress management and life skills to equip individuals for the daily battles of life. I focus on a bio-psycho-spiritual understanding to help people tackle life through healthy coping skills rather than self-medicating with alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or drugs.

Alcohol abuse and its deadly effects may seem overwhelming for those who have a friend or loved one struggling with addition, but help is available. The most effective help for long-term healing is the bio-psycho-spiritual approach using biblically based, Christ-centered principles combined with sound medical and psychological science, so those being helped do not return to a knee-jerk quick fix lifestyle.

 

karl-benzio-1Dr. Karl Benzio MD, Christian Psychiatrist, writer, speaker, media guest expert, social issue activist, and the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network. Benzio brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s storms. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students about counseling, leadership, parenting, marriage, and conflict resolution skills in traumatized areas like Uganda, Kenya and post-Hussein Iraq. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the Pennsylvania Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and serves on many other social policy task forces. His specialties include adolescents, addictions, decision-making and infusing spirituality into treatment. Benzio shares psycho-spiritual insights via his Stepping Stones daily devotional, on his one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” on 425 Christian radio stations and on iDisciple.org.

Email: KBenzio@LighthouseNetwork.org

Twitter: @drkarlb