Monday, November 29

Why does Alcohol Free Day exist and what is it for?


Alcoholic beverages are not only legal, but they are also closely linked, in the popular imagination, to parties, enjoyment and fun. However, it is well known that the excessive alcohol consumption it has very negative consequences.

Nine drinks from village parties that do not have alcohol but are not healthy either

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In fact, according to the World Health Organization (who), alcohol is responsible every year for 3 million deaths, 5.3% of all deaths worldwide. In the age group between 20 and 39 years, this percentage increases to 13.5%. And Spain is the second country in Europe where alcohol is consumed more frequently.

It is for reasons like those that, for more than three decades, there has been a Day without Alcohol, convened every November 15 by various Spanish organizations that fight against excessive alcohol consumption, with the aim of reflect and raise awareness about this problem.

This date is often referred to as “world” day. The truth is that, for now, the day does not have a global scope, but “the process has begun for the WHO to recognize it,” explains Francisco Pascual, president of the Spanish Scientific Society for Studies on Alcohol, Alcoholism and Other Drug Addiction (Socidrogalcohol).

In any case, the Day without Alcohol tries to give visibility to a problem – its excessive consumption – that every year is related to 20,000 deaths in Spain, according to Pascual himself. The expert adds that about 15% of those who attend a consultation in primary care “have alcohol consumption considered risky.”

Risk consumption in Spain: figures and profiles

In our country there are 1.3 million high-risk alcohol users. One million of them are men and 300,000 women. In addition, this consumption is more common among the youngest: it reaches 9.2% of alcohol drinkers between the ages of 15 and 24, while among those over 55 it falls to 4.1%.

This is how the ‘Report 2021” from the Spanish Observatory on Drugs and Addictions, of the Ministry of Health, which in turn takes data from the Survey on Alcohol and Drugs in Spain (EDADES).

In our country there are 1.3 million consumers of alcohol at risk, one million of them are men and 300,000 women

Such a survey includes the call AUDIT scale, a series of questions about the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, behavior or attitude towards drinking, the existence of adverse reactions and possible problems derived from alcohol consumption.

According to the same sources, the profile of the alcohol risk consumer is a 38-year-old male, single, with high school studies and with work. Almost half of these risk users admit that they have gotten drunk in the last month, and 84.3% say they have practiced binge drinking (binge drinking: five or more drinks in a period of two hours).

In the case of women who practice risky alcohol consumption, the profile is similar except for the fact that their age is lower: 33.6 years. Those who say that they got drunk in the last thirty days represent 46.5%, and 83.4% did binge drinking (for them, four drinks in two hours).

How Much Is Considered Low Risk Consumption?

Until a year ago, it was considered that men could drink up to 40 g / day (grams per day) of alcohol and women up to 24 g / day, and that, in this way, they remained within the consumption group “of low risk”.

However, in November 2020 a team of Spanish scientists presented a study review that cut those limits in half. According to this work, which had the endorsement of the Ministry of Health, to be considered “low risk” this consumption cannot exceed 20 g / day for men and 10 g / day for women.

This is equivalent to a maximum of two beers of beer or two glasses of wine per day for men and one for women, according to what the researchers explained. The work also emphasizes that “there is no zero riskIn other words, even lower consumption can have harmful consequences.

To be considered “low risk” (there is no zero risk), consumption cannot exceed two beers of beer or two glasses of wine a day for men and one for women.

Some of the ways that binge drinking can have fatal consequences are traffic accidents, injuries from falls, acts of violence, and suicides. But -as the WHO points out- alcohol consumption is “a causal factor in more than 200 diseases and disorders“.

Among these diseases are the liver cirrhosis and certain mental and behavioral disorders, including – of course – alcoholism. But it can also cause cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

“Recently – the WHO also points out – causal relationships have been established between harmful consumption and the incidence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS”.

And, beyond the physiological, alcohol is “the toxic substance that generates the most problems in the close social environment”, points out Francisco Pascual, given that “when there is a person with alcohol use disorder in the family, they may appear problems in family relationships, economic, etc. “.

Spain: a lot of frequency, not so much

Spain is, as mentioned, the second country in Europe with the highest frequency in alcohol consumption. This stems from the fact that the 13% of Spaniards drink alcohol every day, a figure only surpassed by Portugal (20.7%) and well above the average for the continent (8.4%), according to the European Health Survey.

However, beyond this high frequency, other data allow us to assume that consumption in Spain is one of the most responsible. And it is that ours is one of the countries where they were produced fewer episodes of binge drinking (more than 60g / day).

13% of Spaniards drink alcohol every day, a figure only surpassed by Portugal (20.7%) and well above the average for the continent (8.4%), according to the European Health Survey.

According to the aforementioned survey, almost 20% of Europeans who drink alcohol starred in those episodes at least once a month throughout the entire previous year. But while in Spain this situation reached around 8% of consumers, in other countries it was much higher: in Germany it was 30.4%, in Luxembourg 34.3%, in Romania 35% and in Denmark 37.8% .

By the way, the last report of the WHO -published in 2018- places Spain in 39th place among all the countries in the world according to the total amount of alcohol consumed, with ten liters of pure alcohol per year for each person over 15 years of age. The ranking is led by Moldova (15.2 liters), followed by Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

The Day without Alcohol comes to draw attention to all these figures, situations and risks, and in a way to remember that alcoholic beverages – beyond the joyous and festive place they occupy in the popular imagination – can generate serious damage for many more people than we can sometimes imagine.

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