Dangers of Alcohol Abuse (Physical and Mental)
Since alcohol is legal to consume and so widely accepted, it can be difficult to view it as dangerous, or even as a drug. A glass of wine by the fire, beer with friends, a cocktail before dinner–all associate with normal behavior. Alcohol is almost in every aspect of our culture. While illicit drugs such as meth, cocaine, or heroin may appear more threatening, alcohol abuse dangers are a consequential and frequently deadly issue.
The fact is, alcohol is statistically almost three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco to the human body. Misuse of alcohol can lead to serious addiction problems. While it can certainly damage your physical and mental health, it also affects jobs, relationships, and the lives of people close to you.
Solving this may seem as simple as cutting back or quitting drinking, but for an alcoholic, it’s much more complex than that. Fear and uncertainty can prevent a person from reaching out for help or unaware that they even have a problem.
Please reach out to us at 614-502-6247 if you are struggling with alcohol in your life. We can help you find ways to quit while examining the roots of your dependency and treating it as the disease it is. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a fulfilling, sober life, and we are here to assist with your recovery process.
Being stuck in alcohol addiction is dangerous to the overall physical and mental health of a person. Friends, family members, and those you care for may also be affected.
How Much Alcohol Are You Really Drinking?
Alcohol is the common term for ethanol or ethyl alcohol, a chemical substance found in alcoholic beverages such as beer, hard cider, malt liquor, wines, and distilled spirits (liquor).
Contributing to alcohol’s overwhelming presence in our culture is the fact that it is also in some medicines, mouthwashes, and household products (including vanilla extract!).
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard alcoholic drink in the United States contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is in:
- 12 ounces of beer or a cooler (one beer)
- 8-9 ounces of malt liquor (almost two cocktails)
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces, or a “shot,” of 80-proof liquor
Depending on how they make it, one mixed drink can contain from one to three or more standard drinks. Public health experts use these amounts to develop health guidelines about alcohol consumption and provide a way for people to compare the amounts of alcohol they consume. However, they may not reflect the typical serving sizes people usually encounter.
The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend drinking alcohol in moderation and defines “moderate” drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Heavy alcohol drinking is having four or more drinks in a day, or eight or more drinks per week for women (whereas it’s five or more drinks per day and 15 or more drinks per week for men). Women’s bodies metabolize differently than men’s, which is why the numbers differ.
Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol use disorders are destructive to both the mind and body. You may be familiar with more common potential health issues, but the list of organs and other health hazards is lengthy.
Alcohol use disorders can lead to alcohol diseases and generally cause:
- Heart problems, such as cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of the heart muscle), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), stroke, and hypertension
- Liver diseases, such as steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis (hardening of the liver)
- Pancreatitis – a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion
- Various cancers, including mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast cancer
- A weak immune system
- Severe and even disabling brain impairment
More critically, long-term alcohol use disorder can lead to unmanageable cravings, physical dependence, and severe withdrawal symptoms. Although the damages done to the body by alcohol can be painful, we can reverse much of the damages with continued abstinence and professional guidance. Call us today to talk to a professional about getting the guidance right for you and your needs.
Social Consequences of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse can lead to a person’s inability to fulfill their responsibilities at work, home, or school. It can also encourage risky activities such as driving while intoxicated or having unprotected sex due to lowered inhibitions.
Every day, nearly 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one alcohol-related death every 50 minutes. Drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. The numbers are frightening to consider.
Additionally, the public cost of alcohol traffic incidents estimates to be around $114.3 billion. This includes $51.1 billion in financial costs and roughly $62.3 billion that correlates to deaths. In many situations, the drunk driver endangers sober people and pays out $71.6 billion in settlements annually.
Alcohol is a substance that reduces the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination – all abilities essential to operating a vehicle safely. If you drive while under the influence, you could get placed under arrest, or worse — instigate or be in a traffic accident that causes severe injury or death.
Driving Under the Influence Can Be Fatal
Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers. There were More than 10,500 deaths in preventable crashes in 2018. Driving a vehicle after drinking is a serious crime. Stricter enforcement of drunk-driving laws has been a significant factor in reducing deaths from alcohol since the 1980s.
Charges can range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, and penalties for impaired driving can include driver’s license revocation, fines, and jail time. It’s also costly. A first-time offense can cost the driver upwards of $10,000 in fines and legal fees.
Driving while intoxicated is one of the greatest dangers of alcohol abuse, and the saddest part is that it is almost entirely preventable. If you are suffering from alcohol abuse, then call us today. You do not need to suffer alone. We are here to help you get the help you deserve and start a happier and healthier life.
Binge Drinking: A Preventable Health Issue
Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. Bingeing is a consistent drinking pattern that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above. When men consume five or more drinks, or women consume four or more drinks in about 2 hours, that is generally a binge.
However, not all people who binge drink have an alcohol use disorder. It is the continuous bingeing, regardless of consequences, that creates a severe dependency issue. Binge drinking is, unfortunately, becoming more commonplace- one in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge.
Some facts about bingeing:
- It is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years.
- Binge drinking is two times more common among men than among women. Men drink four out of every five binge drinks.
- It is more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more and higher education levels.
- More than 90% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days
- Most people younger than age 21 who drink report binge drinking, often consuming excessive amounts of alcohol at a time.
Binge drinking has severe risks with many health problems. This risk includes unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking also links with violence, including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.
Sexually transmitted and other alcohol-related diseases can also stem from alcohol abuse. Accidental pregnancy and poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and stillbirth, are a possibility, as well as the potential for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome disorders.
Getting the Help You Need
The general public approval of consuming alcohol is often a barrier between a person with a use disorder and the help they truly need.
It’s no secret that alcohol is everywhere, which is part of the reason it can be so challenging to quit. Sometimes it seems like everywhere you turn, there’s an ad for a beer or a liquor store or a bustling bar. It can be frustrating and excessively tempting.
Even the most careful social drinker has trouble curbing his or her consumption from time to time. Imagine how difficult this is for someone who physically and mentally cannot control their urge to drink.
We can work together and avoid many of the deaths resulting from alcohol abuse. Also, there are resources readily available to help you fight addiction. Considering the health risks of alcohol abuse, the dangers of alcohol abuse, and the dangers of alcohol diseases – it might time to seek some real help.
Alcoholism, like any other substance addiction, is a disease. And that is how we treat it in our programs. If you, or someone you love, are ready to regain control and quit drinking, then please call us. We are here to educate and guide you on the path toward a successful recovery.
Written by Kate Schwab
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