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An alcohol use disorder is defined by habitual troubles with controlling your drinking, having to drink more to get the same effects and signs of withdrawal when you stop. Could your health be in danger?
Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden, analysed mortality and life expectancy in people with alcohol use disorder.
The data collated from 1987 to 2006 involved 1,158,486 people in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.
They found that “life expectancy was 24 to 28 years shorter in people with alcohol use disorder than in the general population”.
It added: “People with alcohol use disorder had higher mortality from all causes of death.”
This suggests drinking too much alcohol, on a regular basis, can wreak havoc on your health.
People hospitalised with alcohol use disorder have an average life expectancy of 53 years old, whereas women have an average life expectancy of 58 years old.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated that the average life expectancy for men in the UK is around d 79 years old.
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For women in the UK, this life expectancy slightly rises to 83 years old.
Alcohol use disorder
The Mayo Clinic stated the condition can cause somebody to become “preoccupied with alcohol”.
Unhealthy alcohol use also includes binge drinking – a pattern whereby a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours.
For females, drinking four drinks within two hours is considered binge drinking.
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“Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks,” said the Mayo Clinic.
Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe, based on the number of symptoms you experience.
Do you identify with any of the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder below?
- Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
- Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use
- Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol
- Failing to fulfil major obligations at work, school or home due to repeated alcohol use
- Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing physical, social or interpersonal problems
- Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies
- Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from the same amount
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — when you don’t drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms
It’s helpful to be aware of alcohol intoxication and alcohol withdrawal when considering alcohol use disorder.
This occurs when the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream increases, which can affect your judgement.
Alcohol intoxication can lead to:
- Inappropriate behaviour
- Unstable moods
- Impaired judgement
- Slurred speech
- Impaired attention or memory
- Poor co-ordination
Alcohol withdrawal can occur when alcohol use has been heavy and prolonged, which is then greatly reduced or stopped.
“It can occur within several hours to four or five days later,” added the Mayo Clinic.
The signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Hand tremors
- Problems sleeping
“If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or your drinking is causing problems, or your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your doctor,” advised the health care company.
As “denial is common”, many people will not feel as though they have a problem with drinking.
For more information on alcohol, do visit Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or Adfam.
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