Adrian Chiles discusses his struggles with alcohol dependence
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It should come as little surprise that alcohol adversely affects health, yet data suggest excessive drinking trends are becoming increasingly prevalent. With these habits comes a high risk of injury, whether it is health-related or not. According to a new study, thousands who sustain such injuries die within a year.
The adverse effects of alcohol tend to be measured on a long-term basis due to the accelerated damage to the DNA.
According to the findings of a new study, however, drinking may also be an “immediate hazard”.
The risk of stroke, for instance, raises substantially within the first hour after drinking but diminishes gradually with each passing hour.
Alcohol poisoning is another known complication of drinking toxic amounts of alcohol in a short space of time.
According to the NHS, severe cases lead to coma and brain damage, but even those lucky enough to survive have a risk of dying within a year.
This observation stems from a detailed analysis of data from 10 million emergency department visits, where alcohol-related injuries required hospital treatment due to intoxication or alcohol use disorder.
The findings, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that alcohol-related injuries increased the risk of dying fivefold in the next year.
The lead researcher of the study, Sidra Goldman-Mellor, said: “Injuries are one of the most immediate hazards of problematic drinking behaviour.
“In addition to getting injured from things like car accidents and falls, some people may get injured in fights or even engage in self-harm after they’ve been drinking.
“However, we actually know very little about what happens to people with an alcohol use disorder after they’ve had a serious injury.”
Within the data, 262,222 cases of non-fatal injury were identified where the patient either had a diagnosed alcohol use disorder or was intoxicated at the time of their injury.
Within 12 months of their hospital visit, 13,175 of these patients had died.
This led researchers to determine this is more than five times the rate for the rest of the California population, after accounting for other determinants of mortality risk.
Some of the major injuries attributed to drinking are poisoning, falls, traffic accidents, and drowning, according to the organisation Drink Aware.
The World Health Organisation adds that “major non-communicable” diseases such as liver cirrhosis, cancers and cardiovascular disease are also a risk.
Many of these happen when alcohol weakens the heart muscles and affects the lungs, liver or brain and body systems.
Goldman-Mellor added: “Injuries associated with alcohol use disorders are a published health problem in their own right, but now we know that they’re also associated with a substantially increased risk of death.
“Most people who struggle with alcohol misuse don’t get the help they need.
“Hopefully studies like ours can be used to increase resources for getting all such patients connected with comprehensive care, but for their substance use and general health.”
While the list of health risks related to excessive alcohol intake is long, there may be benefits associated with moderate drinking.
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