Alcohol kills someone every 10 seconds now

By the time you have read this sentence, another 2 or 3 people have died.  And it is getting worse, not better, all over the globe.

This is a conservative number as ‘reported alcohol-related deaths’ are always much lower than the actual death rates, as we have seen in many studies and even in 2014 in the national Irish study on data from the National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI).

“This actually translates into one death every 10 seconds.  We found that worldwide about 16% of drinkers engage in heavy episodic drinking - often referred to as ‘binge-drinking’ - which is the most harmful to health.  Lower-income groups are more affected by the social and health consequences of alcohol”
Shekhar Saxena, World Health Organisation (WHO) Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department, May 2014.

“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption.  The report clearly shows that there is no room for complacency when it comes to reducing the harmful use of alcohol”
Oleg Chestnov of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Unit, May 2014.

“Russian death rates have fluctuated wildly over the past 30 years as alcohol restrictions and social stability varied under Presidents Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin, and the main thing driving these wild fluctuations in death was vodka”
Sir Richard Peto, in the University Herald, May 2014.

The new World Health Organisation (WHO) report; ‘Global status report on alcohol and health 2014’, chillingly informs us of global alcohol consumption and its impact on public health:

  • One person is dying about every ten seconds from alcohol
  • Alcohol causes at least 1 in 20 deaths globally every year
  • This is over 6% of all deaths – measured conservatively
  • Over 3.3 million people were killed by alcohol last year – and growing
  • Drinking alcohol is linked to more than 200 health conditions
  • Alcohol is directly linked to cancer, diabetes, cancer and obesity-related deaths
  • Alcohol is the prime driver in liver disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis deaths
  • Alcohol abuse also makes people more susceptible to many serious diseases, including HIV and tuberculosis
  • Binge drinking is especially damaging to health, with 16% of the world’s drinkers abusing alcohol to excess
  • On average, every person above the age of 15 worldwide drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol in a year
  • Counting only those who drink, that rises to 17 litres of pure alcohol each year
  • Nearly half of all adults worldwide have never touched alcohol
  • In Russia as many as one in four adult males dies from a drinking related disease or complication
  • Countries like India and China are now leading the way in the ‘drinking boom’ because when a country gets richer, an immediate side-effect is that the people drink far more alcohol
  • The World Health Organization has urged governments to step up and combat the issue but they will not due to the massive tax revenue they receive from the alcohol industry sales
  • The alcohol industry is a powerful industry dominated by a handful of massive conglomerates

The report says all governments have a responsibility to implement and enforce public policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, including:

  1. regulating the sale of alcohol, in particular to younger people
  2. enacting drink-driving policies
  3. reducing demand through taxation and pricing
  4. raising awareness of public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol
  5. providing affordable treatment for people with alcohol-use disorders

As reported by AFP, The Examiner,, The Sydney Morning Herald and on May 13, 2014.

Posted: Tuesday 20 May 2014