When you think of causes of spinal cord injuries, what comes to mind? Motor vehicle accidents? Falls? Acts of violence? These answers are correct, but there is one contributing factor that can increase the likelihood of a spinal cord injury: alcohol.
A recurring theme
Mayo Clinic says that as many as 25 percent of spinal cord injuries involve alcohol. We all know alcohol can impair our judgement and coordination, which can lead to falls, accidents, and even violence. However, there is an overlap among the common demographics for both spinal cord injuries and binge drinking.
Men and people under 30 years old are most susceptible to spinal cord injuries due to a greater inclination for risk taking among that group. Binge drinking is similarly most common among people 18 to 34 years old, with men being twice as likely to binge drink.
The Center for Disease Control says that binge drinking increases the risk for violence, falls, and motor vehicle accidents—the three leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Alcohol may not direct cause spinal cord injuries, but raises the risk factors for incidents that can lead to them.
Staying safe after drinking alcohol
Spinal cord injuries are terrible and life changing for anyone, but it’s the youngest victims who will have live with the consequences the longest. If you’re over 21 years old, you should practice responsible drinking habits by not operating a motor vehicle after drinking. You should take extra caution with your surroundings after drinking, too, to avoid flips, falls, or other accidents that can cause spinal cord injuries.
The reality is that you can experience a spinal cord injury without consuming a drop of alcohol. However, there is a significant amount of research showing how alcohol can contribute to spinal cord injuries.