Social Drinkers, not alcoholics, cause most of the Homicides, Traffic Accidents, Suicides, Violence, Domestic Violence, and Child Abuse
Alcohol ranks as the number one health risk in all but two countries, Canada and the United States, in the Americas, according to a publication of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). This is not due primarily to "alcoholism," however. The biggest problem is overconsumption by people who just drink "socially."
"The biggest misconception people have is that the problem of alcohol is alcohol dependence or alcoholism," says Maristela Monteiro, PAHO regional advisor on alcohol and substance abuse. "In terms of society, most public health problems come from acute intoxication." In other words, she explains, most of the homicides, traffic accidents, suicides, violence, domestic violence, child abuse or mistreatment and neglect are the result of "heavy drinking occasions" by people who mostly are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
The article, "The Problem with Drinking," appears in the latest edition of Perspectives in Health, PAHO's magazine.
The article notes that in the United States, alcohol is a factor in 25 per cent of deaths among people aged 15 to 29. Its direct costs to the U.S. health care system reach some $19 billion and to the U.S. economy as a whole, as much as $148 billion.
Public health experts note that alcohol takes a disproportionate toll on the poor because they spend a greater share of their income on alcohol and when they have drinking problems they have less access to services, may lose their jobs and bring major hardships to their families.
"For all these reasons," the article notes, "many public health experts believe that alcohol policy should be a top priority in every country of the Americas."
....Experts are calling for more research and action to counter the toll of alcohol on public health. As Monteiro notes, "people not only die from drinking too much, they harm and kill those who don’t drink, too."