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Drinking Alcohol Damage Is Well Known But What Age Is The Worst For Health

There is more and more evidence coming out that drinking alcohol in any amount at any age can lead to a variety of illnesses, accidents, assault and more. In our family underage drinking more than 20 years ago led to addiction. Back then parents didn’t think teens having a few drinks was a big deal. It took time and effort for our whole family to recover. That’s the reason we share our experience here at Reach Out Recovery. As a sober mom and daughter for many years, and writing about it, Lindsey Glass and I work to encourage other families to feel good about making healthy choices. But not all parents are ready to face the facts. If you’re an adult drinking responsibly, it’s hard to imagine that your adorable healthy child could become a statistic.

After all, humans have been drinking for thousands of years, despite the known dependency problems, and show no signs of slowing down now. The new research about age and drinking got us wondering which countries drink the most with the worst consequences. Here are some surprising facts.

Americans Are Drinking Less Than Europeans, But More Are Dying From It

Americans aged 15 and up drink only three-quarters as much alcohol as Europeans, but are far more likely to be involved in fatal alcohol-related accidents or die from other alcohol-related causes. There’s no single reason Americans are less responsible with alcohol, but some speculate that a higher legal drinking age in the U.S. leads to more destructive underage drinking habits. Another explanation: Far more Europeans take public transportation home from the bar. 1 in 7 adults over the age of 18 in the US meets the criteria of addicted.

Russians Are the World’s Most Hazardous Drinkers

Despite having some of the world’s toughest drunk-driving laws, Russia leads the planet in alcohol-related deaths and other negative effects of excessive drinking. Only half as many Americans die from alcohol, and only a fifth as many Europeans. This could be explained by Russia’s rates of binge drinking, which leave the rest of the world in the dust. Astoundingly, alcohol is a factor in one in five deaths among Russian men. Alcoholism is so epidemic in Russia that it ranks as the country’s No. 1 killer, and Moscow has banned sales of vodka after 10 p.m.

We’re Not Drinking Any More or Less Than We Used To

Global drinking levels stabilized in the early 1990s, and despite a few minor bumps on the graph, they’ve remained relatively constant over the past two decades. What we drink did change, however: beer consumption shot up, and now shares the top spot with spirits, which had previously dominated as the world’s most-consumed form of alcohol.

But Our Kids Are Drinking a Lot More

The major change in drinking rates that occurred since the 1990s wasn’t for the better. A 2008 WHO survey found that 71 percent of the countries measured had seen an increase in drinking among teenagers aged 13 to 15, and 80 percent had seen an increase among young adults aged 18 to 25. Binge drinking is also on the rise worldwide, which the WHO attributed in part to the rise of “alcopops”—sugary, caffeinated alcoholic drinks . From The Daily Beast

This Brings Us To The Question At What Age Is Drinking The Worst For You

So you knew that drinking alcohol causes brain damage, but it’s always been a coming of age event for American youth. The result is that drinking to excess is often part of American high school and college experience. While US teenagers are prohibited from drinking alcohol until turning 21, the legal drinking age in most European countries is 18. Some countries even allow drinking for teenagers as young as 16. We know that the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, so it is more vulnerable to changes in brain function than older people.

Here’s What The New Research Adds To the Drinking Alcohol Picture

If you’re under the age of 40, you might want to stop drinking. Altogether. This is a change from our earlier belief that drinking over 25 was less damaging. According to a major new study, the consumption of alcohol holds significant health risks and no benefits for young people. There may be a benefit for older adults in drinking a smaller amount, found the researchers from the Global Burden of Diseases, based at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Drinking more than the equivalent of a beer a day could increase the chances of health risk for men in particular, the study found. Men under 40 should not exceed a level of 0.136 drinks a day, while women in the same age range should not exceed 0.273 – around a quarter of a standard drink a day, researchers said.

“Our message is simple,” said senior author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. “Young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts.”

Older adults without any underlying health conditions could see some benefits from drinking alcohol, the study found, such as limiting risk of stroke, diabetes and ischemic heart disease.

For those aged 40-64, half a standard drink to almost two standard drinks a day was considered a safe consumption level. For anyone aged 65 or older, health risks increased after drinking a little more than three standard drinks a day.

But the authors still recommended that alcohol intake for older adults should not exceed 1.87 standard drinks a day. After that level, health risks increased with each drink, the report found.

The rolling Global Burden of Diseases study is the first to report alcohol risks by geographical region, age, sex and year. The team recommended that alcohol consumption guidelines should also be based on age and location, with the strictest guidelines for men aged 15-39, who are at the greatest risk of harmful alcohol consumption worldwide.

“Even if a conservative approach is taken and the lowest level of safe consumption is used to set policy recommendations, this implies that the recommended level of alcohol consumption is still too high for younger populations,” lead author Dana Bryazka, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told the Independent.

Gakidou added: “While it may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking, we do think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.” This story originally appeared in HuffPost UK.

More to Read

Sober Benefits To Your Body And Brain

How To Quit Drinking

What Is Alcohol Poisoning

Signs Of Problem Drinking

Alcohol Impact On Seniors Health


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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass became a recovery advocate and co-founder of Reach Out Recovery in 2011, encouraged by her daughter Lindsey who had struggled with substances as a teen and young adult. Learning how to manage the family disease of addiction with no roadmap to follow inspired the mother and daughter to create Reach Out Recovery's website to help others experiencing the same life-threatening problems. Together they produced the the 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World of Recovery, and the teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, distributed by American Public Television. In her career, Leslie has worked in advertising, publishing, and magazines as a writer of both fiction and non fiction. She is the author of 9 bestselling crime novels, featuring NYPD Dt.Sgt. April Woo. Leslie has has served as a Public Member of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education and as a Trustee of the New York City Police Foundation. For from 1990 to 2017, Leslie was the Trustee of the Leslie Glass Foundation. Leslie is a proud member of Rotary International.

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