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Adding Up the Damage

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The cumulative effect of alcohol. People like to divide things into simple problems. A caused B. Unintended consequences of B caused C. But collecting them all creates the big picture and it is much more frightening than any one piece, especially when it comes to alcohol. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that alcohol-related deaths, from both acute causes and chronic ones, are the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. The report used a tool called Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). You don’t even need to look at the specific numbers, just the diseases and harmful effects related to alcohol. Under chronic cases, the diseases include six types of cancer; heart diseases like cardiomyopathy and ischemic heart disease; strokes; hemorrhages (from varicose veins in the throat); and all sorts of liver disease. The biggest disease numbers in Florida were alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, hypertension, and stroke. For the acute causes related to alcohol, car crashes, suicides, fall injuries and poisoning (not from the alcohol) led the list. But some of the other harmful effects on that list are just as alarming, like child maltreatment, drowning, and hypothermia (yes, freezing to death, even in sunny Florida). Many people can dismiss both acute and chronic causes. People think the dangers of alcohol are limited to drunk driving. They create a scenario: One person who had ‘one drink too many’ and drove and killed an innocent person. They don’t think about the cumulative effect of drunk driving: People who drink and drive habitually and have suspended licenses, higher insurance rates, arrests, and legal costs. They certainly don’t think about the cumulative effect of diseases that build up year by year, drink by drink. Those chronic causes like diseases are easy to dismiss when you are drinking happily and don’t have one of them. But accumulation is dangerous. Too many drinks at one time and you are facing any of a number of dangerous situations. Too many drinks over a lifetime and every health problem that comes your way is complicated by alcohol. And how does it accumulate in relationships? Are they gone, permanently damaged, especially if children are involved? You have no way of knowing how you have damaged other people. They may not even know or be able to process it, and that might be setting them up for their own problems. But imagine a situation where you don’t have to add up the damage. Where the accumulation has stopped because you stopped drinking. You don’t have to think about what damage alcohol is doing to your body. You don’t have to think about what damage you are doing to your family. You don’t have to think twice about getting behind the wheel. That weight can be lifted if you could only stop. Stepping Stone Center can help. If ‘just stopping’ were easy, then no one would have to have that conversation and face the damage alcohol does. We’re here and can give you the tools you need to take alcohol out of your life and out of the equation. Call us at 866-957-4960 and we can get you started on stopping.

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