Alcohol Abuse Facts from the World Health Organisation show that the 3rd highest risk factor for ill health in the World (after tobacco and high blood pressure) is alcohol. Europe is the heaviest drinking region in the World, the source of a quarter of the World’s alcohol and over half of the World’s wine production.
Easy access to cheap alcohol, encouraged by the legal requirement of the freedom of movement of goods within the EU, means that alcohol abuse is the 2nd highest risk factor in Europe (ahead of tobacco) and in France it is the highest risk factor.
The cost benefit to the EU of alcohol (excluding tax revenue) accounts for approximately 1.3% of GDP, although available alcohol statistics state that in France it accounts for 10% of GDP. It is known that French men die younger than most other Europeans, often from alcohol related illness.
Alcohol Abuse Facts – Cost Burden to the EU
The cost burden of alcohol is less easily measured because of the current lack of uniformity in statistics gathering across the EU. Also because the burden is spread across the criminal, social and health systems. However, a study for the European Commission estimates it to be double the above mentioned cost benefit.
It is a known alcohol abuse fact, although not well publicised, that there are stages of alcoholism. Being a progressive drug, the more consistently you drink it, the more you will crave and the more you will need to fulfil that craving.
Once hooked, it is one of the hardest drugs from which to recover with alcohol withdrawal symptoms being the cause of death in some cases. Successful alcohol recovery forms a small percentage of chronic alcoholics.
According to available alcohol abuse facts the top 10% of heavy drinkers (defined as 5+ drinks per day) account for one third to one half of total alcohol consumption in most countries. It is therefore in the interests of the drinks industry to push this drug and encourage heavy or progressive drinking.
Governments are caught between weighing the need for the benefits of tax revenue and job creation against the cost burden to society. Since the cost burden has not been accurately assessed and society itself enjoys the pleasure of booze, this problem has spent time on the back burner of all governments while fuelling the flames of an impending inferno with the amount of women and teenage drinkers on the rise.
Apart from being an addictive drug, alcohol is known to cause 60 different diseases and conditions, including injuries, mental disorders such as alcohol dementia, cancers, gastro intestinal illness, heart, lung, muscle and skeletal disorders. Available mortality statistics for alcohol liver disease (recorded from death certificates in 58 countries), shows that 12 European countries are in the top 15 countries on that list.