group of friends drinking alcohol

Alcohol Kills More People Than Opioids: Why Aren’t We More Concerned?

The opioid crisis is certainly disturbing, but many people don’t realize that there’s another killer lurking: alcohol. In May 2020, opioids took the lives of 81 million people. In 2019, alcohol was responsible for 95,000 deaths. Yet, as The Fix points out, the opioid epidemic still steals the headlines. That’s not to say that the opioid problem isn’t sad and disheartening, but why do we still glamorize alcohol? 

In this post, we’re going to discuss the war on alcohol (or lack thereof) and the real dangers to drinking heavily. 

Dangers of Drinking by the Numbers 

Alcohol kills nearly 100,000 people annually and ruins the lives of thousands more. One would assume that we need more education and awareness, but instead, drinking continues to be encouraged as a way to relax, take the edge off and socialize with friends.

This relaxed mentality is hard to understand when alcohol is responsible for 40 percent of violent crimes, 4.6 million emergency room visits and over 10,000 alcohol-impaired car accidents each year. Not to mention, alcohol abuse is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the US, costing our nation $249 billion annually.

Even if you feel that you drink responsibly, alcohol can cause numerous problems with your health. The following conditions are linked to excess drinking: 

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cardiac arrhythmias 
  • Dementia
  • Pancytopenia 
  • Certain cancers 
  • Immune suppression
  • Mental health disorders 

Why is Alcohol Accepted, Despite its Risks? 

Alcohol is celebrated in our society. There are tons of commercials and advertisements glamorizing its use and they rarely discuss the risks that can happen. Not only is alcohol a contributing factor for various health conditions, but also it directly contributes to domestic abuse, sexual assaults and other violent crimes. 

So why aren’t people demanding that alcohol be banned or restricted? 

Because alcohol is legal, easily accessible and socially acceptable. The people who misuse alcohol aren’t buying it from the corner of a dark alley. They’re often working, raising families and otherwise considered “normal.” Plus, alcohol shows up at almost all events – sports, parties, movie theaters, bowling alleys, concerts – further supporting its image of being fun and safe, as long as you do it responsibly. 

Of course, there is also the money that alcohol brings to our economy. As this article points out, nearly two-thirds of Americans admit to using alcohol, so US policymakers are hesitant to impose any restrictions on it. Alcohol brings in billions of dollars per year, though drug policy makers would like to see more control over alcohol sales and higher taxes. 

Why We Need More Education on Alcohol 

While a glass of wine or beer is fine here and there, many people do not drink like this. Instead, they drink heavily and suffer the consequences because of it. And let’s face it, at its core, alcohol is a drug just like any other. And it’s not pretty. So what can we do? 

At this point, the best approach is more education. Alcohol doesn’t look that glamorous when it’s being marketed as causing pancreatitis or liver cancer. Since this won’t happen from the media, we must educate people, especially children and teens, on the dangers of alcohol. This way, people can make more informed decisions about their health. 

It’s also important for people to be aware of their options for alcohol addiction treatment in Agoura Hills. Many people assume they have to wait until they hit rock bottom, but this isn’t true. People who are struggling with alcohol can access treatment at any time. 

For more information on alcohol abuse and its effects, visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol is a dangerous drug that has short- and long-term effects. If you or someone you know is misusing this drug, take it seriously. Help is available.