Alcohol can kill slowly, as it gradually contributes to diseases like cirrhosis of the liver and cancer at several sites. Harmful drinking is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol can kill quickly, sometimes instantly, when it contributes to road traffic crashes, injuries, poisoning, violence, violent crime, and suicide.
Alcohol use can lead to the development of alcohol dependence and a range of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Through various mechanisms, it increases the risks of infectious diseases, like tuberculosis and HIV, and has a negative impact on their treatment outcomes.
Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause permanent physical and mental damage to the developing fetus resulting in a range of health conditions known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Preventive action is deeply desired by many governments, many civil society organizations, and many millions of people around the world who have seen lives, families, careers, and communities devastated or destroyed by the harmful use of alcohol.
Like many other societal problems, the harmful use of alcohol has multiple dimensions and contributing factors that extend well beyond the health sector.
Depending on the national context, efforts to protect populations from the harmful use of alcohol can require support from fiscal policies, trade policies, the judicial system, law enforcement, and government ministries responsible for youth, road safety, consumer affairs, and commerce.
All countries wishing to introduce or strengthen alcohol policies have a powerful instrument to assist them: the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol, approved by the World Health Assembly in 2010.
The strategy sets out a menu of policy options and supporting interventions that each country can draw on to craft effective and affordable policies that match distinct national problems and priorities, as expressed in distinct cultural and religious contexts. (UNI)