You know the commercials for pharmaceutical drugs on TV that have to list the side effects?
My kids and I always crack up at these commercials because we can’t imagine someone taking a pill where the side effect could be death.
For some reason, alcohol, also a drug, can be advertised without needing to mention any side effects.
This is curious because alcohol causes more deaths than all pharmaceutical drugs combined.
But I was trying to imagine a Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl that had to list the warnings. What would they have to say?
Long-term alcohol misuse is associated with liver and cardiovascular disease, cancer, and nervous system damage as well as psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and antisocial personality disorder.
Alcohol and its consumption can cause a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair judgment and coordination. It can cause feelings of depression.
Intoxication occurs because the liver is unable to metabolize more than one ounce of alcohol every hour. Therefore, when a person consumes more alcohol than the body can metabolize, intoxication occurs. Intoxication can generally last anywhere from one to 12 hours, and the after-effects (“hang-over”) of intoxication can last 24 hours or more.
Repeated use of alcohol can lead to increased tolerance that in turn leads to greater amounts required to achieve its desired effects. Once the body develops a dependence on alcohol, a sudden cessation of its intake is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms that can be life-threatening and include severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions.
Alcohol can be lethal if the amount of alcohol reaches a concentration above 460 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood (0.46 g/dL). Death from respiratory depression can occur with severe alcohol intoxication, and this can be hastened if alcohol is combined with CNS depressant medications.
Excessive use of alcohol can lead to alcohol dependence.
Drinking and driving results in numerous car accidents, injuries, and deaths each year. In 2009, there were over 10,800 crash fatalities with a driver BAC of 0.08 or higher, roughly 32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year. Of these drivers, fifty-six percent had had a BAC of 0.15 or greater.
Alcoholism is a treatable disease but is considered a lifelong, chronic illness that requires counseling, support and often medication to control cravings. Relapses are a common problem for alcoholics. Risks for developing alcoholism include a genetic predisposition and lifestyle practices. Stress, ease of alcohol availability, and peer groups can increase the risk for alcoholism.
Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:
- Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
- Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
- Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
- Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women.
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
- Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
- Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
- Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
- Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.