Man holding shot glass hanging his head

Alcohol is a part of cultures globally. However, it is also an addictive substance, and a new World Health Organization (WHO) report outlines how alcohol use disorder is prevalent worldwide. The statistics that the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018 reveals may surprise you.

What Is the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health?

This global status report is published by the WHO every four years. The report examines the global level status of alcohol use. Specifically, it outlines the status of alcohol consumption in different regions of the world, and it also examines the health impacts of this consumption. The report further examines policies that can be helpful for decreasing the harm caused by alcohol use.

Global Mortality From Alcohol Misuse

While it might seem like alcohol misuse does not cause a tremendous number of deaths, the cumulative impact of substance misuse is profound, widespread and serious. According to the report, “in 2016, the harmful use of alcohol resulted in some 3 million deaths (5.3 percent of all deaths) worldwide. Mortality resulting from alcohol consumption is higher than that caused by diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and diabetes.”

The reasons for death due to alcohol misuse are diverse. According to the WHO report, “in 2016, of all deaths attributable to alcohol consumption worldwide, 28.7 percent were due to injuries, 21.3 percent due to digestive diseases, 19 percent due to cardiovascular diseases, 12.9 percent due to infectious diseases and 12.6 percent due to cancers. About 49 percent of alcohol-attributable DALYs are due to noncommunicable and mental health conditions, and about 40 percent are due to injuries.” Both the short-term impairment and the long-term health conditions caused by alcohol misuse can lead to death. A stunning 7.6 percent of all premature deaths worldwide can be traced to alcohol misuse.

The Health Impacts of Alcohol Misuse Disorder

The health impacts of alcohol misuse are profound and are felt around the world. The WHO report states that “over 200 health conditions are linked to harmful alcohol use, ranging from liver diseases, road injuries and violence, to cancers, cardiovascular diseases, suicides, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.” As the world strives for sustainable development and overall health, alcohol misuse has an impact on health-related sustainable development targets such as improving maternal and child health, reducing infectious diseases such as HIV, improving mental health, and reducing injuries and poisonings. One of the UN sustainable health targets specifically references the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including the use of alcohol.

Where Are the Effects of Alcohol Misuse Most Severe?

Alcohol misuse is a serious disorder around the world. However, there are certain regions that bear a heavier burden than others. Europe is still the heaviest drinking region, but Africa has the largest problems with alcohol-related diseases. European drinking levels are going down, while levels of drinking in Southeast Asia are rising. Heavy episodic drinking is most common in Eastern Europe and in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, since the WHO predicts that global alcohol consumption will increase, there is a lot of work to do to reduce the health impacts of alcohol misuse.

The report notes that alcohol misuse impacts groups of people differently. For example, alcohol misuse can exacerbate existing social and personal problems for those who are poor. Poorer countries as a whole tend to experience more ill effects from alcohol misuse, and the population may have less access to treatment as well. Unfortunately, as countries get wealthier, this can initially increase the access to alcohol, which can exacerbate the problem for a while instead of solving it. Higher-wealth countries have higher levels of alcohol use as well.

Alcohol Misuse Is Connected to Other Substance Misuse

The WHO report notes that alcohol is not always used on its own. Unfortunately, it is often used in tandem with other recreational drugs such as opioids and cannabis. This can impact overdose deaths and deaths from other causes, such as traffic accidents.

Policies Must Change

The WHO has pinpointed a number of most cost-effective actions that countries can take to reduce the problems associated with alcohol misuse. They recommend that governments reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages, increase taxes on alcohol, and ban or restrict alcohol advertising. They also recommend that there are limits on the physical availability of retail alcohol. The WHO director recommends that countries control alcohol to protect the mental and physical health of people. In total, eighty countries have national alcohol policies, and 11 countries ban alcohol entirely. In countries that restrict alcohol use, licensing is the most commonly-used way to achieve this restriction.

What About Colorado?

While the WHO report examined alcohol misuse on a global scale, the impacts are felt in households around the world, including many in Colorado. Opioid use often makes its way into the news in Colorado, since the misuse of opioids can be serious and deadly. However, alcohol is a serious problem as well. Nearly a third of residents in some Colorado counties are drinking at unsafe levels. Furthermore, Colorado is the only state in which people overconsume four major intoxicants: marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and opioids. It’s not a wonderful distinction to have, and there are both health and social consequences from alcohol misuse. For example, the number of children in foster care is rising rapidly due to the state’s problems with drug and alcohol misuse.

If you are looking for support for your alcohol misuse in Colorado, talk to The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake. We offer medical assistance, counseling, inpatient and outpatient therapy and aftercare. We also offer alternative therapies such as recreation and art therapy. If you want to move toward sobriety, we can help learn how you can enjoy a sober life.

At The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, we know that alcohol use disorder can be a challenge that is hard to face alone. That is why we have developed programs to support you as you transition out of substance misuse and into a healthier life. Contact The Recovery Village Palmer Lake to discuss admission and treatment options.

You Might Be Interested In

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

Because alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous – and even kill you – make sure you have medical advice from your doctor or a rehab facility when you decide to stop drinking.

10 Signs Of A High-Functioning Alcoholic

There are many misconceptions about alcoholism that make it sound like an alcoholic is an easy person to spot, however, many alcoholics function effectively and lead relatively normal lives.

Alcohol Treatment & Rehab in Colorado

An alcohol abuse problem can include binge drinking, having negative consequences such as hangovers with your drinking but continuing anyway, and drinking despite the desire to stop.

Self-Medicating Anxiety with Alcohol Is Risky

In a recent study by The Recovery Village, 44% of respondents reported abusing alcohol in an attempt to ease uncomfortable feelings that stem from underlying anxiety.

How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Pressure?

Drinking more than three drinks in a single sitting will temporarily cause your blood pressure to rise, but extended binge drinking or regular alcohol consumption can cause a permanent increase in blood pressure.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.