The number of people dying from alcohol is higher now than at any time in history, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation. In 2012, over 3.3 million people around the world died due to alcohol-related issues; this compared to 2.5 million people in 2011. This number is shockingly high, but it is hardly surprising given that the report also found that about 16 per cent of the world’s population regularly engage in binge drinking. Alcohol is often portrayed as a harmless habit, but it is actually one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide – not to mention all the misery created due to this type of substance abuse.
Why Are So Many People Dying from Alcohol Every Year?
The most likely reason for the rise in the number of alcohol deaths is the popularity of binge drinking. This is a particularly dangerous pattern of alcohol consumption because it means regularly drinking a large amount in a short period. It differs from social drinking in that the person is deliberately trying to experience the effects of inebriation. There are many dangers associated with binge drinking:
- Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time means individuals will be at high risk of alcohol poisoning.
- This pattern of drinking is the one that is most likely to lead to alcoholism.
- If you are inebriated, you are more likely to make bad decisions.
- Those engaging in binge drinking are more likely to be involved in crime or become a victim of crime.
- Excessive alcohol intake can be damaging to almost every organ in the body.
- Binge drinking can be associated with dangerous drinking games (for example, many people have died recently due to an online social media game called neknominate).
- Driving when inebriated is extremely dangerous but it continues to happen worldwide – even in countries with tough anti-drunk driving laws.
- Most people who commit suicide will have been drinking alcohol beforehand.
- Binge drinking and domestic abuse often go hand-in-hand.
Culture of Binge Drinking
More people die due to alcohol abuse than all of the illegal drugs – like heroin and crack – combined. This reality is not reflected in how drinking is treated in society. Illegal drug use is often portrayed as the biggest danger to society, yet it is alcohol (which is usually legal) that is causing the most suffering. The scariest thing is that most drinkers do not even think of alcohol as a drug at all.
Not only is society failing to promote the dangers of alcohol, it actually encourages behaviours like binge drinking. In places like here in the UK, drinking is viewed as part of the culture. Drunk people are regularly seen on TV and in movies, and it is often portrayed as a cool thing to do. Many celebrities are as famous for their drunken exploits as they are for their creative talents. There is a dangerous attitude that if people work hard from Monday to Friday, they have earned the right to go out and get drunk at the weekend.
Twice as many people die because of alcohol than because of AIDS. If there were a disease out there killing over 3.3 million people each year, there would be a huge effort to deal with it. Not enough is being done to prevent alcohol-related deaths, which means that the number is almost certainly going to keep rising in the future. The rising popularity of new ways of getting drunk such as powdered alcohol may mean that it will not be long before over 5 million people are dying each year due to alcohol.