Alcohol Consumption is at an all-time high. It has become an outlet for some people and a setting of societal standards for others. People from almost all strata of the society generally resort to drinking alcohol, all for their own reasons. Alcohol is known to “relax” a person and give them the “high” to have a good time and forget about all their worries and tension. However, there are multiple harmful effects of consumption of alcohol that should also be accounted for, which is as significant, maybe more, than the pleasures derived from it. In fact, according to the reports by the World Health Organization, more than 3 million people died due to using of alcohol in the year 2016 and the numbers are only going to rise every year. Incidentally, the number of male victims are more than females, pointing towards a certain gender predilection.
Causes of death due to Alcohol Consumption
A recent global report by the World Health Organization was recently released in 2018 which gives a comprehensive detail about alcohol consumption and its harmful effects and how it has become more fatal over the years. Looking at it from a medical point of view, alcohol consumption is associated with a number of systemic diseases. Gastrointestinal-related health issues occupy the top spot along with liver damage and cirrhosis and cardiovascular issues following close at its heel. However, the deaths are not only based on these systemic causes. Deaths due to drunk driving, interpersonal disputes under the influence of alcohol, being unaware and causing self-harm to form more significant reasons. In fact, according to statistics, 28% of death is caused by these non-systemic issues and 19% by cardiac and 21% by gastrointestinal problems. The remaining number can be attributed to the contraction of infectious diseases, mental disorders, cancer etc.
Another comparison that came to light with this report is that almost 237 million men succumbed to this condition, in contrast to 46 million women. The main reason for this discrepancy could be that men resorted to alcoholism more easily and had more access to it. It is more common in the European and American regions. People belonging to high-class societies are more affected by this than the lower class counterparts.
Prediction of an increase in the global consumption in the upcoming decade
The reports have also pointed out to one more aspect, the signs look very ominous and disappointing in the coming years with respect to increased alcohol consumption and the deaths caused by it. The three most significant regions under the WHO which are known to consume high quantities of alcohol are Europe, Western Pacific, and America. Among these three, Europe is the numero uno, as far as per capita consumption of alcohol is concerned, even though there has been a 10% decrease since 2010.
However, the shift in global scale to an increase in alcohol consumption can be attributed to the fact that more number of people in the South-East Asian region and the Western Pacific and America is going to consume more in the upcoming 10 years
The quantity of alcohol that people are consuming each year
The numbers are actually quite staggering. There are more than 2.3 billion people in the world who indulge in alcohol. On an average, a person consumes 33 grams of alcohol per day, which roughly translates to 2 glasses of wine, a full bottle of beer or two shots of any kind of spirit. What is more alarming is that more than a quarter of the total population in the range of 15-19 years of age are alcohol consumers.
In some countries, people start drinking at as low as 15 years. Spirits have been the preferred source of alcohol, racking up almost 44%, with beer and wine closely the following suit at 38% though the trend is undergoing slight changes by people preferring beer and wine over hard drinks. Again, the major consumption occurs in Europe region, followed by the Western Pacific and America. If you view these numbers critically, you will realize that alcohol consumption has spread across the world quite extensively and the huge number of deaths caused by it was just a matter of time.
Actions a country can take to combat this problem and reduce alcohol consumption
One way to reduce the fatality of alcohol consumption is to make more stringent laws about its sale worldwide. Countries need to levy heavy excise taxes which will discourage people from investing in alcohol. Moreover, banning advertisements about alcohol over television and radio and not entertaining volume discounts or below the cost selling could also be viable options. More innovative ideas should be discussed in bringing down the statistics and achieving the target of 10% reduction in alcohol consumption from the year 2010 to 2025.
Once the alcohol consumption issue is addressed, a lot of other aspects of health will also be improved, like the maternal health, the spread of infections, child health, mental health etcetera, as they are all inter-related. This will make the vision of the World Health Organization of an alcohol-free healthier tomorrow possible.
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