People of Faith Are Not Immune to Addictions, Health Leader Says

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Quoting Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White, Reinert said that “grief, anxiety, discontent remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death.” [Photo: Adventist News Network]

Presentation discusses the state of affairs and what Adventists are doing about it.

Addiction in all forms is a global crisis, resulting in millions of deaths annually, Katia Reinert told the 800 health professionals and other attendees from 106 countries during her July 11 plenary presentation at the 3rd Global Conference on Health and Lifestyle in Loma Linda, California.  

“According to the World Health Organization [WHO], 3.3 million deaths annually — six deaths every minute — are from the harmful use of alcohol alone,” she said. “These statistics are staggering, and we need to do more to effect change.”

Sobering Statistics

Reinert, an associate director of Adventist Health Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, shared sobering statistics of deaths by risk factor, measured across all age groups and both genders. These included smoking, 6.32 million; high blood sugar, 5.61 million; obesity, 4.53 million; high cholesterol, 4.39 million; alcohol use, 2.81 million; and high blood pressure, 10.46 million, according to OurWorldData.org.

The highest number of deaths for those in the 15-49 age group resulted from unsafe sex, alcohol use, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and high total cholesterol, she said, again drawing from OurWorldData.org.

The emotional toll of addiction is huge, Reinert noted, adding that “suicide is one of the top causes of premature death among adolescents and youth.” 

Citing WHO statements on addiction, Reinert said that too many families and communities suffer the consequences of alcohol use, violence, injuries, mental health problems, and diseases such as cancer and stroke. “‘It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies,’” she said, quoting Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO. 

Substance Addictions

Reinert explained that substance addictions include addiction to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, illicit drugs, narcotics/opioids, and benzodiazepines, as well as heavy caffeine use.

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