In many parts of the world, drinking alcoholic beverages is a common feature of social gatherings. Nevertheless, the consumption of alcohol carries a risk of adverse health and social consequences related to its intoxicating, toxic and dependence-producing properties.
In addition to the chronic diseases that may develop in those who drink large amounts of alcohol over a number of years, alcohol use is also associated with an increased risk of acute health conditions, such as injuries, including from traffic accidents.
Alcohol impacts people and societies in many ways and it is determined by the volume of alcohol consumed, the pattern of drinking, and, on rare occasions, the quality of alcohol consumed. In 2012, about 3.3 million deaths, or 5.9 % of all global deaths, were attributable to alcohol consumption.
The harmful use of alcohol can also result in harm to other people, such as family members, friends, co-workers and strangers. Moreover, the harmful use of alcohol results in a significant health, social and economic burden on society at large.
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