Alcohol in our daily life

By Klaus Döring

A study of drinking around the world warns that even an occasional glass of wine or beer can increase your chances of disease and an early death. Scientists say there’s no such thing as a “safe level” of alcohol.

Christmas parties, wonderful get-togethers, family homecomings. Many reasons to consume more than one glass per day.

One additional big reason: alcohol guidelines may not be safe in many countries, the study says. The health risks associated with alcohol are enormous. I quote Emmanuela Gakidou, senior author and director at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle.

The researchers drew on more than 1,000 studies to compile a picture of alcohol’s health impacts and drinking habits among men and women around the world.

They reported that imbibing one standard drink — equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits — each day, boosted the odds of developing at least one of 23 possible health conditions by about 0.5 percent.

That might not sound like much, but — at a global level — that daily drinking habit translates to about 100,000 additional deaths every year, Gakidou said.

Alcohol and the unforgiving liver

“There is no safe level of alcohol,” Max Griswold, lead author and IHME researcher, told the AFP news agency. “Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed.”

In addition to the prevalence of alcohol-related disease, the study also looked at injuries and death resulting from alcohol consumption, such as road accidents and self-harm.

Two drinks per day increased the chances of disease and injury by 7 percent, the researchers wrote. The risk climbed to 37 percent with five drinks.

This is how a global picture looks: of the more than 2 billion people around the world who consume alcohol, about 63 percent are men, the researchers wrote.

The most abstemious nations were those with Muslim-majority populations.

Alcohol is, as we all know, a depressant. It slows down the function of all the body’s parts. Vital functions can be slowed down to the point of death. Under its influence people choke to death at family picnics, drown at the beach, fall asleep while driving a car, hurt and even kill other people.

Alcohol creates a feeling of freedom without worries and euphoria. Our feelings are really free flowing, everyday worries are replaced with a carefree spirit. Wow, I really feel on top of the world today.

I joined the circle of many other fellows around, more or less regular social drinking, and/or habitual drinking with meals (beer or wine!). When I stayed in France, I couldn’t believe that for many Frenchmen a breakfast consists of bread (baguette), cheese, coffee – and red wine! Anyway, social drinking also means occasional drinks to relieve stress or boredom.

Once we reach the addictive stage we are already in danger. Gulping drinks and secret drinking daily to relieve stress makes one lose control, and being unable to stop drinking creates drinking habits. Danger is with us, if we lose control over when, where and how much we drink. The memory blackouts don’t let us remember any more, where we had been or how we got home. We lose our self-respect and the performance of our work is seriously affected. Loss of interest in everything (except in drinking) means loss of jobs, conflicts with the law, mental deterioration, and even death. The sad consequences should let us tremble with fear.

A few people who decide to stop drinking find it easy. Having made the decision, they simply never drink again. And honestly, every time I enjoy a drink in really acceptable measurements I am trying to ask myself, if I could stop drinking right now.  That’s how I quit smoking almost 40 years ago.

Let’s face it: one drink a day is one too many.

“Who was woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long on the wine, those who go in search of mixed wines? Do not look at the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse words. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one, who lies on top of  the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I wasn’t hurt; they have beaten me, but I didn’t feel it. When I shall awake, that I may seek another drink!'” (Proverbs 23:29-35).


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