Alcohol increases the risk of injury or death from accidents, assaults and self-harm.
ALCOHOL AND INJURY
Recent studies show that injury and death due to trauma are amongst the most
important consequences of alcohol misuse. Drinking alcohol has been associated
with risk of injury in many settings, including vehicle and cycling accidents,
incidents involving pedestrians, falls, fires, land and water sports and
recreational activities, and violence.
Alcohol can increase the likelihood of injuries or death:
• from accidents, by the effects of alcohol on such abilities as reaction time,
reasoning, co-ordination, care and judgement;
• from violence, by the effects of alcohol on factors such as self-control,
impulsivity, and the capacity to resolve conflicts in non-violent ways;
• from self-harm, with heavy drinking as a major risk factor for suicide and
suicidal behaviour among both young people and adults.
The risk of injury from alcohol, and guidelines to lower such risks
Risk of injury starts to increase at relatively low levels of alcohol intake, and it increases as
the level of intake increases:
• The risk increases more for people whose level of consumption varies significantly from
time to time, and the risk is highest for those who occasionally drink much more than
their usual amount.
• Young people have greater vulnerability to alcohol than adults do. As well as usually
being physically smaller, they lack experience of drinking and its effects; and the loss of
inhibitions and decision-making skills place young people at particular risk of violence,
accidents and sexual coercion.
• The advent of puberty and later adolescence are often accompanied by taking on a range
of risk-taking behaviours and/or potentially dangerous activities, both of which can
considerably heighten the risk associated with drinking.
In older people, the risk of falling increases with older age, while driving skills may be