A Closer Look at Relationship Between Alcohol and Suicides

Researchers have turned to a new informational source in the new study that examines the link between alcohol and suicides. Instead of only comparing suicide numbers with relative proximity of alcohol availability, these researchers decided to look at how much alcohol was in the system, if any, of the person who committed suicide. This information could then allow for better local policies regarding the sale of alcohol, and better preventative measures against alcohol-related suicides.

In order to determine how prevalent alcohol was in suicides, and how much alcohol was in the body at the time of suicide, researchers analyzed data gathered by National Violent Death Reporting System. This system collects information regarding violent deaths, and is a sub organization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For this particular study, information from 14 states was synthesized into a more specific picture of alcohol-related suicides. Researchers were particularly interested in how easy it was to acquire alcohol and how this related to suicides, and what the blood alcohol content was of those who committed suicide after consuming alcohol.

Of the 51,547 suicides examined, they noted that 34% of them had alcohol in their system, and 22% of those people had blood alcohol levels higher than .08%. The researchers also pointed out that areas with a wide variety of alcohol outlets, bars and clubs had more alcohol-related suicides, especially among Native American and Alaskan native men. This was a new discovery, because it unveils two populations that are not usually represented when planning for suicide prevention and alcohol education. But researchers were not surprised by this outcome and explain how this can occur with men in these populations.

“There’s a long history with regard to drinking problems in many sectors of [Native populations], It could be, partly, that the drinking patterns are somewhat different. I think it could also be that, in some cases, there may be a sense of desperation or many challenges. So, suicide may be one of the ways people deal with that,” explained Dr. Norman Giesbrecht, one of the researchers of the study.

This study is unique because it examines more than just the relationship between suicides and alcohol density in cities in towns throughout the United States. It shows that many people who commit suicide are consuming a lot of alcohol beforehand, and this could be a major warning sign to family and friends.

The Danger of Mixing Alcohol and College Students

College is oftentimes a very exciting period in a young person’s life. This is likely the first time they are away from their parents for an extended amount of time, and they are able to make more decisions for themselves. There are hundreds, if not thousands of new people to meet and plenty of free time to make new experiences one would not necessarily have the opportunity to do if they stay at home.

Perhaps it is a combination of the above points that makes it more likely that college students will abuse alcohol, but regardless of the reason it is clear that college students continuously place themselves at risk for alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behavior and violence while under the influence of alcohol. They’re also potentially setting the building blocks for a long-term alcohol abuse or addiction problem in the future. In order to better understand why alcohol remains such a problem for college students, many researchers are working on studies and investigations into the life of a college student and how they can best be helped when it comes to making smarter decisions regarding alcohol consumption.

Studies have shown that at least 60% of college students have gotten drunk in the last thirty days. This large number certainly indicates that many students are not only able to purchase alcohol, despite being under the age limit, but they are also able to purchase enough that they can attain a feeling of being drunk. This is important because it has been found that alcohol causes around 1,800 deaths a year among college students.

Peer pressure and the college environment have also been noted as reasons why many students drink, as many become swept up in the “traditions” of Greek Life and other collegiate activities. Without the constant guidance of their parents or other responsible mentors, students will often make poor decisions when trying to fit in. This conformity often shows itself in drinking heavily.

In order to minimize the damage that alcohol can have on the developing brain and the effects that it can have on someone’s behavior and decision making process, further studies may reveal more adequate prevention measures.

Large Number of People Suffer from Alcohol Abuse

A new study revealed that fourteen percent of Americans currently struggle with an alcohol abuse problem. In addition to those that are currently suffering from an alcohol abuse problem, a total of 30% of Americans have struggled with alcohol abuse at least once in their lifetime. The study was conducted by researchers who wanted to investigate exactly how prevalent alcohol addiction is in American society. While problems like; heroin addiction and prescription pill abuse are well known and discussed at length, alcohol addiction is the quiet killer.

“Most importantly, this study highlighted the urgency of educating the public and policy makers about alcohol use disorder and its treatments, destigmatizing the disorder, and encouraging among those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment,” explained the authors of the study.

In order to educate more people about the dangers of alcohol abuse and also that more Americans are suffering from an addiction to alcohol than many people thought, the researchers published their study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The study came about after medical experts changed the definition of alcohol use disorder, altering the criteria people needed to exhibit in order to be diagnosed with the dangerous addiction. The new definition added more signs of alcohol abuse and clarified that someone has to display at least two of the symptoms listed in the definition. Some of the new criteria included; continuing to drink alcohol despite it harming relationships, school or work performance being negatively affected by alcohol consumption and attempting to quit drinking and being unable to.

Researchers gathered data from 36,000 Americans. Questions were asked about their drinking habits and if their drinking negatively affected any aspects of their life. Researchers also studied those that admitted to having a drinking problem at one point in their life. Interestingly, most of the people that had struggled with alcohol in the past, or were currently struggling with alcohol, had not or were not receiving treatment. There is a general feeling that an alcohol abuse problem can go so long without being detected because the public is not aware of the signs of an alcohol addiction and how common the problem actually is. Researchers hope that the study will help to shed some light on the alcohol problem in the country.

Alcohol Leader in Worldwide Death Count

The average American drinks 85 bottles of wine a year. While this is not the highest amount of yearly alcohol consumption in the world, Americans rank high on the list. The social acceptance of drinking is likely what has led to this excessive number and it is also what is leading alcohol to be the cause of tens of thousands of deaths around the world. A report released by The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development also showed that drinking among youth throughout the world has increased and so has the risky behavior associated with underage drinking.

“The cost to society and the economy of excessive alcohol consumption around the world is massive…Alcohol now accounts for a higher proportion of deaths worldwide than HIV, AIDS, violence and tuberculosis combined, ” explained Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. Tax payers are also feeling the effects of the increase in alcohol consumption and health complications associated with alcohol abuse. World-wide, tax payers have had to fund legal, health and support for those suffering from alcohol addictions.

In addition to increased social acceptance of drinking, alcohol is also easier to purchase because it is in more locations and in general, alcohol is a cheaper way to celebrate and indulge. While other studies have shown that alcohol advertisements do not necessarily increase the amount of adult alcohol consumption, the study also points out that there are more alcohol advertisements, world-wide, than ever before.

Alcohol addiction is a very real problem in The United States and it is difficult to spot. Because many people drink on a daily or semi-regular basis and do not consider themselves alcoholics, it is much harder to spot alcoholic tendencies in others who may be sliding towards an addiction. One of the biggest problems associated with alcohol is binge drinking. Binge drinking, defined as multiple drinks in a short period of time, is one of the most common ways alcohol is abused. A person who engages in binge-drinking episodes is more likely to develop an alcohol addiction later in life. This is likely due to the fact that alcohol has already successfully been used as a distraction and a way to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Homeless Alcoholics Commonly Start Drinking as Children

A new study at Bellevue Hospital in New York City has shed light on the life of a homeless alcoholic and found that they typically begin drinking as children. 100% of the patients enrolled in the study began drinking at a young age, becoming alcohol-dependent soon after.

“For people who have homes and jobs, it is difficult to imagine the level of despair these people experience day in and day out, or the all-consuming focus on getting the next drink that overrides even the most basic human survival instinct,” said study author Dr. Ryan McCormack of New York University School of Medicine.

McCormack, along with his team, interviewed 20 alcohol-dependent, homeless patients who had four or more annual visits to Bellevue Hospital’s emergency department for two consecutive years. Most end up in the ER because of public intoxication.

Of the 20 patients, 13 reported abuse in their childhood homes, 13 had alcoholic parents, 19 left home by age 18, one was married, and none of the patients had jobs. The three interviewees who were military veterans said that military life amplified their alcohol use.

All 20 patients cited their alcoholism as the primary reason for living on the street. According to the report, 11 had definitive psychiatric diagnoses in the mood, psychotic, or anxiety spectrums. Every patient had entered detoxification programs in the past.

The researchers added that within a year of being interviewed for the study, one quarter of the patients had died as a direct result of their alcoholism. Alcohol-attributed causes of death included liver or lung cancer, vehicular trauma, assault, and hypothermia, noted the report.

“As their capacity to envision a future diminishes, they increasingly lose motivation for personal recovery,” said McCormack. “An alcoholic is first a human being. We hypothesize that more accessible, lower-barrier, patient-centered interventions that support alcohol harm reduction and quality of life improvement can be translated into the emergency department setting and this population.”