You heard that right; 5% of all deaths worldwide are caused by alcohol. It is an alarming number, but it’s also something we can prevent and treat. Risky use of alcohol, or in other words, unhealthy alcohol use, is defined as any alcohol consumption that can result in adverse health consequences. Eight in every ten individuals older than 12 years of age use alcohol in their lifetime. One in every two uses alcohol at least once in 30 days, while 1 in 4 reports a heavy drinking episode (five or more drinks on one occasion) every month.
Individuals with risky alcohol use usually go on to develop an alcohol use disorder.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in the United States has estimated consumption amounts of alcohol that increase health risks:
For men under age 65
More than 14 standard drinks per week on average
More than four drinks on any day
For women and adults 65 years and older
More than seven standard drinks per week on average
More than three drinks on any day
Note that a smaller amount of regular alcohol can constitute risky use in specific groups (e.g., pregnant women or people who experience alcohol-associated injuries or infection with a sexually transmitted disease).
The most common and dangerous way of consuming alcohol is binge drinking. It is defined as drinking so much alcohol within about two hours that the blood alcohol concentration levels reach nearly one gram of alcohol per liter of blood (0.8g/L). That typically occurs after approximately four standard drinks among women and after about five standard drinks among men. Binge drinking leads to acute liver injuries due to intoxication and may be related to an increased heart disease risk.
Alcohol use disorders may manifest in any body’s organ system. As they are listed below, they are often associated with psychological effects and may severely impact the social well-being of the affected person. Here is a list of some of the behavioral, psychiatric, social, or medical manifestations of unhealthy drinking that are usually observed:
Trauma or injury
Anxiety, depression, suicidality
Substance use disorders
Brain and neurologic symptoms
Bone marrow suppression
Cancers of various organ systems (e.g., oropharynx, gastrointestinal, breast)
Social or legal problems
Excessive alcohol consumption is among the leading preventable causes of death, responsible for 1 in every 20 deaths. Deaths related to excessive alcohol use include suicide, worsening of existing health conditions, and fatal accidents. Therefore, preventing harmful alcohol consumption would save almost 3 million lives every year. Unfortunately, the most affected individuals would not have the courage to seek help. If we care about people around us, we can help them get the help they need.
It is recommended that all adult primary care patients be screened for unhealthy alcohol use. In the BYON8 app, a medical doctor performs a careful assessment of all features of the alcohol-related problems, investigates their severity, and offers appropriate treatment and counseling.
This is what indicates that you need a consultation:
Symptoms like: Tremor, agitation, sleep disturbances,
Hospitalization after heavy alcohol consumption
It is crucial to consume wisely and avoid the problems mentioned above.
Until next time, Stay safe.
 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (2020) Results from 2019 Survey on Drug use and health: Detailed tables
 Hasin, D. S et all. Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence in the United States: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Archives of general psychiatry, 64(7), 830–842. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.64.7.830