Alcohol is featured so heavily in the current day and age that many people consider it harmless. But did you know drinking can harm your health? Classed as a drug, alcohol can lead to various short and long-term health risks when abused. Though many believe that drinking in moderation is not harmful, any amount of alcohol consumption can cause adverse health effects and addiction.
Ultimately, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that men consume under two drinks each day. Likewise, women are advised not to drink more than one drink containing alcohol per day. However, these guidelines do not consider an individual’s personal needs and health.
Should you find yourself wondering what impact alcohol has, here are four ways that drinking harms your health.
Excessive alcohol consumption kills cells when filtered through your liver. Over time, these cells renew, but drinking alcohol frequently means the liver can’t keep up with cell renewal. Over a prolonged period of alcohol abuse, the liver loses its ability to regenerate cells, which can cause liver diseases such as fatty liver, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
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In addition to liver cancer, alcohol has been found to play a role in the development of other cancers. For example, studies have found that alcohol abuse is the cause of around 70% of chronic pancreatitis, and those with chronic pancreatitis are 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
Alcohol is not only bad for the liver and pancreas but the heart too. Drinking can cause high blood pressure, leading to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. Furthermore, unbeknown to many, our skin, which is the largest organ, isn’t safe from the effects of alcohol. Heavy drinking can lead to premature aging and wrinkles. This is because alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it draws water away from the skin and causes dehydration.
Alcohol is classed as a depressant. This means it slows down messages sent to the brain. Immediate effects of alcohol consumption include slurred speech, impaired cognitive function, and memory loss.
Many people drink to mask mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. But this only makes things worse in the long run. There is also a link between excessive drinking and dementia and other degenerative brain conditions.
In the United States, excessive drinking is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths each year due to health consequences and even alcohol poisoning.
Though you may not think you are at risk of alcohol poisoning, it is a widespread problem. While not everyone will encounter alcohol poisoning, it usually occurs when a large volume of alcohol is consumed in a short period.
Additionally, as alcohol impairs our judgment, drink driving has become a significant issue across the country. It can lead to car accidents due to a loss of concentration and slower reaction time.
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When you consume alcohol over a prolonged period, there is always a risk of developing an addiction. Otherwise known as a substance use disorder (SUD), alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, includes excessive drinking, hiding your alcohol intake from loved ones, feeling ashamed of your drinking, craving alcohol, and not being able to stop drinking.
Having reviewed the above four ways that drinking harms your health, you must confide in someone if you think you have a drinking problem and seek professional help. Attempting to withdraw from alcohol alone is not advised as it can be fatal. Doing so may also see you subject to a wide range of withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, nausea, mood swings, insomnia, and sometimes even seizures which can lead to relapse.
When you secure help, your health care provider will assist you with a medical detox. Therapy is also recommended to work through the internal struggles of addiction. Treatment programs and support groups can also be completed and attended to help you maintain abstinence.
Recovering from alcoholism can be tough, but with the right support, you will have the ability to secure a substance-free future. If you believe you are losing control of your alcohol intake and want to stop drinking, check out the national institute on alcohol for advice on what to do next.
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