Although other substances get much more attention both from the media and the public, a report just out from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) starkly reminds us that the most problematic and costly substance in our culture is without any question alcohol.
Among the many near-term dangerous problems associated with alcohol abuse, there are these obvious ones: much higher levels of being involved in homicides, suicides, accidents (in the workplace, at home, and of course, on the road), poor judgement decisions (unsafe sex, and use of other dangerous substances, for example), mood changes, and a host of others.
As for the long-term costs of alcohol abuse, the huge list includes outstanding ones such as much higher levels of cardiovascular disease, psychological changes, liver disease, sleep disorders, and cancer since alcohol use (even at low and moderate intake levels) has been linked to a higher risk of a host of cancers including esophageal cancer and breast cancer.
And those long-term consequences don’t even address the other awful long-term negative effects that alcohol abuse delivers to a drinker’s family, workplace, community, and country (the incredible cost of dealing with alcohol abuse).
Bottom line: a little bit of alcohol might lead to some positive health effects and might improve some social situations (I can’t really picture going to certain parties unless I could nurse a glass of wine throughout) but anything beyond that carries potential significant health risks.