Alcohol-Related Injury

New statistics due to be published in January highlight the growing problem of alcohol related injuries and the strain that they place on the UK's health services. While it is always important to ensure that someone injured under the influence of alcohol is treated by medical professionals as soon as possible there are also a number of easy treatments available to utilize on the injured person while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

One common misconception relating to alcohol consumption is that damage primarily affects the organs. It is known that alcohol is associated with liver disease, high blood pressure, heart disease and various types of cancer, but it also has more immediate consequences. As researchers have long known, alcohol not only impairs the ability to receive and respond to hazardous events, but it affects coordination long after consumption. Hangovers equally impair neuro-cognitive performance, and significantly affect psycho-motor vigilance: the consequence is alcohol-related injuries, and in some unfortunate cases fatalities.

The results of a new study, to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research in January 2012, reveal statistics about alcohol-related injuries. By examining national alcohol consumption data alongside alcohol metabolism rates, senior researchers have found that alcohol is one of the major causes of hospitalisation. One in 26 ‘bed days’ in the NHS is taken up by alcohol-related illness, and a quarter of male emergency admissions are due to the consumption of the substance. Over half of the suicide attempts recorded are also linked to heavy drinking, making it clear that more needs to be done in educating the public about alcohol’s lesser-known effects.

Alcohol affects judgement, reasoning, reactions and concentration, so anyone with a considerable intake will react in a very different manner to when sober. If you are worried about friends and family, ensure they take no unnecessary risks when under the influence. Moreover, if you happen to come across someone injured when drunk, the most important thing to do is call the emergency services. There are, however, some first aid measures that can be taken in the process.

If the casualty is unconscious, it’s important to open and maintain their airway; when breathing, make sure to place them in the recovery process. You should apply pressure to any wounds with a clean piece of cloth or clothing, and raise and support the injured limb.

Whilst statistics keep flooding the public, there are many helplines, groups and alcohol treatment centres available across the UK. If you’re worried about a friend or family member, call Life Works to receive help and advice.

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