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Alcoholism & Addiction

Injury Associated with Heavy Drinking

It is generally known that heavy alcohol consumption results in a higher risk for injury, as well as risky sexual behavior and abuse of other substances. In addition, those who regularly drink heavily have a higher tolerance for alcohol than those who are not accustomed to drinking a large amount of alcohol.

In a recent study, published in the January edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and injury to determine how alcohol increases the risk for injury.

Corresponding author Ted R. Miller, senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, and colleagues wanted to know the extent to which serious injury was due to the consumption of alcohol. The researchers examined the proportional decline in injury when alcohol was not a factor.

The researchers began by investigating data about national alcohol consumption and looking at metabolism rates for alcohol in order to establish the number of hours that were spent "alcohol positive" versus "alcohol negative" for heavy drinkers. The results indicated that alcohol use is heavily associated with hospitalized injury. For heavy drinkers, despite an ability to better tolerate alcohol than those who drink moderately, the risk for injury more than tripled when they were drinking.

When heavy drinkers were alcohol-positive, their risk was 4.5 times that when sober. While heavy drinkers can, within limits, tolerate alcohol better, they still significantly raise their risk for injury when drinking. In addition, heavy drinkers are 1.35 times more likely than non-heavy drinkers to experience an injury when sober. This may be due to the effects of a hangover.

The study also found that alcohol raises the risk for near drowning, assault and non-elderly fall. A large number of hospitalizations for injury are associated with alcohol; 36 percent of assaults resulting in hospitalization and 21 percent of injuries are connected with alcohol consumption by the person injured.

Moderate drinkers also have a high risk of injury requiring hospitalization. In fact, their rate is even higher than that of heavy drinkers. This is likely due to moderate drinkers being less accustomed to the effects of alcohol.

This information is helpful in understanding the risks of injury while under the influence of alcohol on beverage bottles. Understanding the significant rates of injury associated with heavy alcohol consumption may help consumers make wise alcohol-related decisions.

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