Alcohol and Injuries: Together Like Bread and Butter

The number of people injured while drinking alcohol is staggering.

“It’s not that tall,” Josh thought. “I can jump it. Easy.” An hour later, Josh was in the ER getting treated for burns thanks to a drunken attempt at leaping over a raging bonfire.

When you’ve had a few drinks, your inhibitions decrease and you are more likely to try risky behaviors. And guess what else decreases? Your skills! As a depressant, alcohol slows down the brain and affects the body’s responses. Your coordination and response times are…not so great.

What’s the result? Under the influence of alcohol, you think you can do more than you normally can, when the truth is you can do less than you normally can.

For many drinkers, this combo results in serious consequences:

  • Half of all alcohol related deaths worldwide are the result of an injury.
  • Some studies report between 10 and 18 percent of all injured ER patients are there due to alcohol-related incidents.
  • One worldwide study found that up to 45 percent of injuries involved alcohol.

That’s a lot of hurt people – and a lot of physical consequences that could have certainly been prevented.

The Root of the Problem

How are these injuries occurring?

Some people, like Josh, try crazy stunts that land them in the hospital. Others are simply trying to do things they can do when they’re sober, but they don’t have the physical capacity to do them while drunk (like walking on an uneven or slippery surface). Still others suffer injury due to violence. Under the influence, tempers can flare and the scene quickly turns ugly, resulting in injury to themselves and others.

From falls to fractures and fires, alcohol and injuries are common companions. Check out these concerning stats:

  • Various studies report that between 13 and 63 percent of falls are directly related to alcohol.
  • A high proportion of deaths from falls, fires and burns are linked to drinking.
  • Alcohol use is implicated in one-third of drownings.
  • Alcohol plays a role in up to 25 percent of all workplace accidents.

I Drank, Fell, Bumped My Head and…

Unfortunately, the effects of drinking don’t end with accidents. Alcohol can affect how your injuries are treated, as well. Since alcohol affects your immune system and circulation, the body’s natural recovery processes can be hampered.

Alcohol can also make it difficult for doctors to diagnose serious conditions when you’re drunk. Wounds – head injuries in particular – can induce similar behaviors to drunkenness. Plus, if your injury requires anesthetic or medication, alcohol can also interfere with these drugs. The result may be delayed surgery or other treatment.

Take Care

Remember: The more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to get injured immediately following that binge. And this risk isn’t just for those drinking in public. Researchers tell us that 36 percent of injuries identified as “alcohol related” occur at home.

Take care; don’t become part of these statistics.

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