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Today in El Diario: Alcohol’s Deadly Toll

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Drowning in drink

New Yorkers drink a lot, so there’s always a steady stream of hospitalizations and emergency room visits because of booze, and some of the city’s immigrant communities are leading the way, according to the Spanish-language daily.

In 2009, alcohol led to 70,000 emergency room check-ins for adults between the ages of 21 and 64. For people 12-20, the paper reports, more than 4,000 E.R. registrations stemmed from the sauce.

In NYC Vital Signs, a report put together by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, officials noted that Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Corona are the neighborhoods with the most alcohol-related hospitalizations, El Diario reports.

In Corona, one Alcoholics Anonymous group helps more than 130 people with drinking problems, many of whom are immigrants from Latin America.

“One time, I drank so much, I started a fight with some guys I didn’t even know, and they beat me up,” 23-year-old Alex, who’s been sober five months, told the daily. “I wound up unconscious and hurt, and I was in the hospital for a week. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done because of my alcoholism.”

Emilio, a 26-year-old immigrant who lives in Elmhurst, told the newspaper that he’s an alcoholism statistic. The young man didn’t eat or sleep — he just drank — but had to quit when his organs stopped working.

In the hospital, he said, “they told me that if I drank again, my pancreas would rupture — that if I kept boozing, I’d wind up dead.”

Gerardo, who’s lived in Jackson Heights over 16 years, told the newspaper, “During the week, I drank twelve beers a night. On the weekends, I drank until I fell over. I don’t know how I got home. I was like a cotton ball — absorbing so much alcohol. I was like a sponge.”

Now 34, Gerardo said that he now is sober because he has taken refuge in faith.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 11, 2011

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