Cutting down on social or sports activities because of drinking is linked to a higher risk of death than by physically hazardous drinking behavior, claims a new study.
The study involving some 40,000 people indicated that social and psychological problems caused by drinking generally trump physically hazardous drinking behaviors when it comes to overall mortality rates.
"What this study really shows is that researchers and policymakers need to look at the nuanced complexities tied to alcohol consumption," said lead study author Richard Rogers, professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the US.
The study showed, for instance, that participants who had experienced an intervention by physicians, family members or friends had a 67% greater risk of death over the 18-year study period, Rogers noted.
Those who reported cutting down on social or sports activities because of alcohol use had a 46% higher risk of death over the same period. In contrast, issues like driving after drinking too much or engaging in other physically risky behavior did not result in a significant uptick in mortality rates, he said.
The new study also showed that the social risks of drinking -- from losing jobs to having spouses threaten to leave -- were equally or more strongly linked to mortality than physiological consequences of alcohol abuse like withdrawal jitters or becoming physically ill.
The study looked at the drinking habits of roughly 40,000 people across the nation, including 41 specific drinking problems. The researchers had access to information about which respondents died between the time of the survey in 1998 and 2006.
The study was published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence