Monday, July 14, 2014

Just Don't Drink Alcohol

This morning, I came across two recently published articles on the dangers of consuming alcohol. The first article, "Contribution of Excessive Alcohol Consumption to Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States," is from the CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention). The second article, "WHO calls on governments to do more to prevent alcohol-related deaths and diseases," is from the World Health Organization (WHO).

After reading both articles (and a third and fourth article—I recommend reading both), I'm more convinced than ever that I've made the best health decision of my life by not ever consuming one drink of alcohol—not even one! I'm not bragging. I'm just sincerely grateful that my body has never ingested or processed alcohol in any way.

Thus, I have a deep desire to share what I've learned with anyone who takes the time to read this post. (Thank you for reading!) Oh, how I wish our world could be free of alcohol, for I know our society would be so much better without it. Since an alcohol-free society isn't a reality (Remember Prohibition?), I dearly hope people will study the statistics I've included in this post and continue to research alcohol's dangers for themselves. Hopefully, scientifically-proven logic will win out over physical desires or weakness.

I highly recommend reading both articles in their entirety—but for those of you who don't have time, here's my ESPN version.

Important points from the CDC's article:

"Excessive alcohol use is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States and costs $223.5 billion, or about $1.90 per drink, in 2006. Excessive alcohol consumption includes binge drinking (ie, ≥5 drinks on an occasion for men; ≥4 drinks on an occasion for women), heavy weekly alcohol consumption (ie, ≥15 drinks/week for men; ≥8 drinks/week for women), and any drinking by pregnant women or those younger than 21 years. Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive alcohol consumption, usually results in acute intoxication and is responsible for over half of deaths and three-quarters of the economic costs of excessive drinking. Excessive drinking is also responsible for many other health and social problems."
"An average of 87,798 AAD (alcohol-attributable deaths) and 2,560,290 YPLL (years of potential life lost) occurred in the United States annually from 2006 through 2010. Overall, 44% of the AAD and 33% of the YPLL were due to chronic conditions, and 56% of the AAD and 67% of the YPLL were caused by acute conditions. Most AAD (71%) and YPLL (72%) involved males. [That said, in the other article from the WHO, they pointed out that, "...there is evidence that women may be more vulnerable to some alcohol-related health conditions compared to men. In addition, the authors note that there is concern over the steady increase in alcohol use among women."] The most common cause of chronic AAD was alcoholic liver disease, while the most common cause of acute AAD was motor-vehicle traffic crashes. 
"A total annual average of 4,358 AAD (5%) and 249,727 YPLL (10%) involved those under age 21 years from 2006 through 2010. Similar to the findings for adults, about 78% of the AAD and 76% of the YPLL in those younger than 21 involved males. However, in contrast to the findings for adults, all of the top 3 causes of death for those under age 21 years —specifically, motor-vehicle traffic crashes, homicide, and suicide —were acute conditions. In fact, motor-vehicle traffic crashes alone accounted for 36% of the total AAD for those under age 21 years."
"From 2006 through 2010, excessive alcohol consumption accounted for nearly 1 in 10 deaths and over 1 in 10 years of potential life lost among working-age adults in the United States. Furthermore, an average of 2 out of 3 AAD and 8 out of 10 alcohol-attributable YPLL involved working-age adults." 
"This analysis illustrates the magnitude and variability of the health consequences of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States, and the substantial contribution of excessive drinking to premature mortality among working-age adults. More widespread implementation of interventions recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force, including increasing alcohol prices by raising alcohol taxes, enforcing commercial host (dram shop) liability, and regulating alcohol outlet density, could reduce excessive alcohol consumption and the health and economic costs related to it."
Important points of the WHO's (World Health Organization) article:
"Worldwide, 3.3 million deaths in 2012 were due to harmful use of alcohol, says a new report launched by WHO today. Alcohol consumption can not only lead to dependence but also increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and some cancers. In addition, harmful drinking can lead to violence and injuries." 
"'More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption,' says Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. 'The report clearly shows that there is no room for complacency when it comes to reducing the harmful use of alcohol.'" 
"In addition, the report shows the need for communities to be engaged in reducing harmful use of alcohol."
To support the WHO's and CDC's research-based recommendations, I'd like to share this informative video about Utah's alcohol laws that the Mormon Newsroom created. (And no, I didn't know that the M.N. just blogged about this same topic. I simply remembered watching this video months ago and wanted to share.) Every state and country should consider what Utah's alcohol laws are, and see if they can implement them into their own.

*I also found the WHO's Key Facts from their Alcohol Fact Sheet to be very informative. I strongly suggest reading the article in its entirety.
"–Worldwide, 3.3 million people die every year due to harmful use of alcohol, this represents 5.9% of all deaths.
–The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions.
–Overall 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
–Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life. In the age group 20–39 years approximately 25% of the total deaths are alcohol-attributable.
–There is a causal relationship between harmful use of alcohol and a range of mental and behavioural disorders, other noncommunicable conditions as well as injuries.
–The latest causal relationships have been established between harmful drinking and incidence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as the course of HIV/AIDS.
–Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large."
All of that said, there are numerous folks all over the world who love alcohol, feel completely in control of their consumption of it, and disagree with the information I've included in this post. To them, I say this:

Don't drink alcohol even once. If you are in the habit of drinking alcohol, stop. Just because the aforementioned statistics include mainly excessive or binge drinking, don't think that you couldn't get to that point of alcohol dependency—for it could happen to anyone. We never know what our bodies and mental states are capable of. Why gamble with your body? We never know who will react poorly to alcohol; two drinks in one person might act like six drinks in another. Why put your body through the damaging effects of any amount of alcohol consumption?

If you don't believe me, please study the table in the CDC's report for detailed information on how alcohol negatively affects the body. For another perspective, check out this short article "Alcohol's Effects on the Body," by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Here is the NIAAA's link to their PDF "Beyond Hangovers" that discusses even more negative effects of alcohol on the body—it's most definitely worth reading!

*Although, I completely disagree with the NIAAA's PDF where it states that some people benefit from drinking alcohol. If people want the polyphenol benefits found in wine, I say drink grape juice! Here are three articles stating that drinking grape juice provides the same benefits as drinking wine, without all the negative effects of alcohol:

If those statistics don't convince you to stop drinking alcohol, think about all the money you'll save by abstaining! :) Put the money you save by not drinking alcohol towards: a vacation somewhere in our beautiful world; your favorite charity; updating your wardrobe; starting a new hobby; etc. The spending options in an alcohol-free lifestyle are endless!

Life is short enough as it is without adding the physical, mental, emotional problems that come with consuming alcohol. Please use your time wisely on this earth! Put the time you would have spent drinking alcohol—and recovering from its negative effects—towards making this world a better place. Find ways to serve others! Mentor someone. Listen—just listen—to those around you. People are suffering; find a way to help alleviate their pain.

Ask someone to do something fun with you! Climb a mountain! Swim! Dance! Fish! Run! Walk! Clean! Go to the gym! Watch a movie! Play an instrument or write a song! Go shopping! Organize your house! Paint! Write a book that tells your story or shares all of the wisdom you've accumulated during your lifetime! Go on vacation! Create a new meal! Everyone has differing opinions of what constitutes fun, so think about what fun means to you—without consuming alcohol—and do it! :)

Be honest with yourself. If you aren't able to stop consuming alcohol for yourself, thoroughly think about how your alcohol consumption affects your family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. Do what is best for the greater good—which includes yourself!

Lastly, remember that every soul/spirit eagerly awaited the opportunity to gain a physical body. Some souls followed our Heavenly Father's plan and received their body. Yay! Sadly, some spirits erroneously followed Satan and were forever denied the wonderful opportunities a physical body affords. Alcohol consumption hinders the soul's ability to be in control of the body. Thus, the soul is not able to accurately fulfill its mission here on earth, which is exactly what Satan wants. Would your pre-earth-life excited-for-a-body spirit approve of your alcohol-consuming actions??

One of our greatest opportunities to prove ourselves is by showing loyalty to our Heavenly Father. If we follow His desires for us—which include following the Word of Wisdom—not only will we live happier and healthier lives, we will be able to confidently face our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ when we return home to Them.

I'm not perfect and I don't have all the answers, but I hope what I've written makes sense. I dearly want everyone to see the infinite value that comes from our souls being in control of our bodies. It's never too late to begin healing! :)

Update: 07/05/16: As this blog post has steadily moved up Enthusiastic Fantastic's "most read" ranks, I decided it was time to create a fun typographic design to go with it! We really are our own heroes when we choose to keep our bodies and minds healthy! #beahero! :)

For more of my thoughts on the importance of the spirit/body connection, see my post, "Super Strong Souls."

Update: 03/13/17:

To back up what I present in this blog post, I just read a great article in Scientific American about the dangers of alcohol. The author, Dr. Kunmi Sobowale, is a psychiatry resident at the Yale School of Medicine, so he really knows what he's talking about! I highly recommend reading, "We Must Raise Alcohol Taxes."

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