The Social Impact of Drinking Can Lead to an Early Death

We have all heard that drinking impairs judgment and can lead to poor decision making. These poor decisions, such as driving while intoxicated, can cause premature death. But what of the social impact, things like losing a job or spouse, of drinking? A new study from Colorado University Boulder recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, shows that the social consequences of drinking may also cause negative life impact, including early death.

Researchers looked at 41 problems related to drinking and death risk. These included: depression, drunk driving, work absences due to hangover, arrests, family breakups, drinking more than desired, and unsuccessful attempts to limit consumption. The data included information gathered in a 1988 National Health Interview that included more than 40,000 individuals in the USA over the age of 21. Researchers in this study then accessed death records to determine how many respondents died up through 2006. After studying the statistics, they found that the social fallout from drinking increased mortality. To the researchers’ surprise, drunk driving and other dangerous activities executed while intoxicated did not create a significant increase in death rates. Instead, it was the social consequences of drinking that were most strong linked to higher mortality rates.

The researchers report:

Social risks were equally or more strongly linked to mortality than physiological consequence of alcohol abuse such as lifetime reports of needing a drink to stop shaking or get sick. …Most importantly, these associations were evident despite statistical controls for alcohol consumption levels and demographic, social, economic, behavioral, health and geographic factors.

In other words, losing your job or your spouse – the social impact of drinking – may be more dangerous to your long-term health than getting into a bar fight. If you need help with your drinking, speak to a person with substance use disorderion treatment professional. You can improve your life.


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