Intoxication is the most common cause of alcohol-related problems, leading to injuries and premature deaths. As a result, intoxication accounts for two-thirds of the years of life lost from drinking. Alcohol is responsible for:
30% of road accidents
44% of fire injuries
34% of falls and drownings
16% of child abuse cases
12% of suicides
10% of industrial accidents
As well as deaths, short-term effects of alcohol result in illness and loss of work productivity (e.g. hangovers, drink driving offences). In addition, alcohol contributes to criminal behaviour - in Australia over 70% of prisoners convicted of violent assaults have drunk alcohol before committing the offence and more than 40% of domestic violence incidents involve alcohol.
Each year approximately 3000 people die in Australia as a result of excessive alcohol consumption and around 65 000 people are hospitalised. Long-term excessive alcohol consumption is associated with:
high blood pressure and stroke
cancers of the digestive system
other digestive system disorders (e.g. stomach ulcers)
sexual impotence and reduced fertility
increasing risk of breast cancer
brain damage with mood and personality changes
concentration and memory problems
In addition to health problems, alcohol also impacts on relationships, finances, work, and may result in legal problems.
Tolerance and Dependence
A regular drinker may develop tolerance and dependence. Tolerance means that they feel less effect than they used to with the same amount of alcohol. Dependence means that the alcohol becomes central in their life - a lot of time is spent thinking about alcohol, obtaining it, consuming it and recovering from it. The person will find it difficult to stop drinking or to control the amount consumed.
Someone who is physically dependent on alcohol will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking or substantially reduce their intake. Symptoms usually commence 6-24 hours after the last drink, last for about 5 days and include:
difficulty sleeping (may last several weeks)
Alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous; people drinking more than 8 standard drinks a day are advised to discuss a decision to stop drinking with a doctor as medical treatment may be required to prevent complications.
The Mother of Every Evil
One day, as he came out from his mosque, the Prophet Muhammad, may God send praises upon him, noticed his cousin and son-in-law, Ali b. Abi Talib, visibly upset. When the concerned Prophet asked Ali what was troubling him, Ali simply pointed to the bloody carcass of his dearly cherished camel - no ordinary camel, but the war-weathered camel that Ali would mount in his valiant defense of the Prophet and Islam on the battlefield. Ali told the Prophet that one of their uncles had been responsible for the unsanctioned slaughter of his animal, and so the Prophet went to ascertain his (i.e. the uncle’s) side of the story.
Entering in the presence of his uncle, the Prophet found him drunk with wine. Upon seeing the displeasure in his nephew’s face, the uncle knew at once, despite his intoxication, that the Prophet had come to question him about Ali’s beast of war. With nothing good to say in his defense, the guilt-ridden, drunken uncle blurted out to his nephew: “You and your father are my slaves!” The Prophet’s only response to the blasphemous outburst was to exclaim: “Truly, alcohol is the mother of every evil!”
And so, from the biography of the Prophet Muhammad we learn a weighty lesson as regards the colossal and evil consequences of alcoholic drink. Any one of the alcohol-inspired acts in this short episode from the blessed Prophet’s life would suffice the reader as an admonition: whether it be the culling of Ali’s camel, the drunken state of an uncle of a Prophet of God - let alone His last and final messenger to mankind - or the wicked insult he spewed out against him and his own
deceased brother, who was no less than the father of the Prophet of God. How much worse then when we consider all these crimes together? Not to mention the many evils indirectly resulting from the uncle’s consumption of the alcohol, such as the loss to the Muslim community of one its battle-hardened steeds of war, or the pain, anguish and, perhaps, embarrassment that Muhammad must have felt at this tragic family affair. No doubt, it was precisely because the Prophet recognized that it was the alcohol that gave birth to and nurtured all these foul sins that he denounced it as: “the mother of every evil!”