Every now and then, we are confronted with a new situation that is so outstanding and/or unusual that it engenders an actual “WOW” response on your part.
I had such an experience last March when I visited the Great Wall of China. This was such an amazing experience that it
deserved a full blown “WOW!”
Later that year, believe it or not, I encountered another “wow” experience while reading an alcohol research journal. Note that this was a more muted wow than before, but special all the same.
The article was The Risks Associated With Alcohol Use and Alcoholism, by the noted researcher, Jurgen Rehm, PhD, of the University of Toronto. This research article was the first one I had ever come across that had combined the possible impact of
alcohol on virtually all of the organs of the human and then, also spoke of the damage that alcohol consumption can have on others (second hand effects of alcohol).
A list of more than 30 diseases/conditions, are presented, including alcohol dependence (alcoholism). Then the author points out the areas where dieseases may be entirely or partly caused by alcohol consumption. These categories include neuropsychiatric diseases, infectious diseases, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver and pancreatic diseases, and intentional and unintentional injury.
Then, Professor Rehm goes on to describe how alcohol consumption can affect the health of others as well as cause social harm to both the drinker and to others. All of this adds to the very high overall costs, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, monetarily and legally, associated with alcohol consumption. Alcohol is anything but a simple, ordinary drug.
To reduce alcohol impact on the burden of disease as well as on other social, monetary, and legal costs, Rehm states that it “is imperative to develop effective interventions that can prevent or delay initiation of drinking among those who do not drunk, particularly adolescents, and limit consumption to low-risk drinking levels among those who do consume alcohol.“ (p. 141)
I strongly recommend this article. In fact, I believe that in some way all members should have access to the article as it very clearly documents all of the numerous reasons for pursuing a life of abstinence. Maybe a copy could be included with a futures local newsletter, for example. Most people like to have up-to-date research on issues that are very important to them.
And probably all national IOGT organizations should get a copy of this total issue of Alcohol Research and Health as it is devoted to the “Preventing Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism—An Update.” It would be a most valuable resource!
For more reading
Related blogg post by Vince
Alcohol and Social Harm in Australia: “Understanding and responding to alcohol-related social harms in Australia. March 2008”
Seminar in the European Parliament, by Eurocare, on: “The Social Cost of alcohol: Passive drinking” (find both Audio & Visual presentations)
“Common misconceptions regarding alcohol issues“, by PAHO, the Pan-American Health Organization of WHO
Article: “Concepts and items in measuring social harm from drinking” by Robin Room
Fact Sheet Alcohol harm and young Europeans
WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, 2011: includes “Harm to other people” and “Harm to society at large”
WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol, 2004: includes “Economic and social costs of alcohol use”