TROUP COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – April is Alcohol Awareness Month and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use is a leading preventable cause of death in the United States, shortening the lives of those who die by an average of 26 years. 

Dr. Kenneth Horlander is the Regional Medical Director for Emory Healthcare in Troup County and the Medical Director for the Intensive Care Unit at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center. He said he has consistently seen people drink excessively throughout his career and go into withdrawals when they stop. 

Dr. Horlander said there are a series of medical conditions that are a result of excessive drinking. Many of the conditions stop the liver from working properly and that often means it cannot clear toxins from the bloodstream like it is supposed to. 

“It definitely is toxic. Alcohol is toxic to the liver and overtime the liver becomes scarred and hardened and part of it becomes nonfunctional,” said Dr. Horlander. 

He said high alcohol consumption also increases the risk of different cancers, hypertension and issues within the stomach lining which can lead to ulcers. 

Along with the medical dangers alcohol may present, alcohol poses a threat when consumers become impaired as a result and begin driving impaired.

According to the CDC, every day 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.

Sergeant Stewart Smith, the Public Information Officer at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, said the sheriff’s office averages about eight or nine DUI’s a year. They see the number of impaired citizens increase on calls around the holidays and the summer. 

“Anytime you’re dealing with mental illness or alcohol or drugs, it certainly impairs the person and they’re not in the right state of mind and it’s hard to communicate with them. It can make them violent, they can be asleep when we get there. It just depends on how the person is and of course different people consume alcohol differently where they can take a different volume of alcohol differently. Some people can consume it and there not be any issues with it and some there can be a lot of issues with it,” said Sgt. Smith. 

Sgt. Smith said one of the biggest dangers of consuming alcohol is oftentimes individuals will believe they are okay to drive and get into accidents that injure multiple people even those who were not impaired.