Alcohol and Your Health: Excessive Consumption
While moderate drinking can provide some health benefits, too much alcohol dramatically increases your risk of health problems. In fact, excessive alcohol consumption can damage almost every part of your body over time.
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
The impact of alcohol on your mind and body depends on the amount of alcohol that you consume relative to personal factors such as your age, weight, gender, and overall health.
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse both involve consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol, but are distinct conditions. The NIAAA defines alcohol abuse as the “continued use of alcohol despite the development of social, legal, or health problems.” Any alcohol use by underage youth falls into this category. Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a “chronic disease involving a strong need to drink, the inability to stop drinking, the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms, and tolerance.” Often, alcoholism is progressive problem that only worsens over time. In both cases, serious health issues can result. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that men are more susceptible to drinking problems than women.
Individuals who develop a dependence on alcohol often continue to drink even after learning about the ill effects of excessive drinking.
People who drink regularly may build up a tolerance to alcohol and its effects. Individuals who develop a dependence on alcohol often continue to drink even after learning about the ill effects of excessive drinking. The person will find it difficult to stop drinking or to control the amount consumed.
One of the most effective ways of stopping those who are drinking too much, and to stay aware of how much you have been drinking, is by using a BACtrack Professional Grade Breathalyzer. By staying aware of your BAC and that of your loved ones, or by at least bringing this fact to their attention, you can more readily make informed decisions and stop drinking or get help when needed.
Recreational alcohol consumption, such as social and binge drinking, can provide a temporary respite from the strains and stresses of our daily lives. It can also lead to serious threats to our well being including mental impairment, illness, and even death. According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use is the 3rd-leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S. Major health problems associated with recreational drinking can be prevented by understanding risks related to short-term alcohol consumption. Binge drinking has been defined as the consumption of 5 or more consecutive drinks for men, and 4 or more consecutive drinks for women.
Other Side Effects
Alcohol can disrupt the lives of heavy drinkers in other ways. In the workplace, employees with alcohol problems perform at a lower level than their colleagues and many miss work because of their alcohol problems. Alcohol abuse can also lead to careless mistakes, such as unplanned pregnancy and transmission of diseases, and has been associated with increased risk to public health and safety. In addition, alcohol is often implicated in violent incidents.
Major health problems associated with recreational drinking can be prevented by understanding risks. Binge drinking has been defined 5 or more consecutive drinks for men, and 4 for women.
Health Problems Associated with Heavy Drinking
The havoc that excessive alcohol consumption can wreak on your body may incubate for years. When alcohol-related health problems finally manifest, they can be serious and irreversible.
Excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to cause:
- Heart attacks
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Brain lesions
- Cancer (liver, pancreas, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus, breast, colorectal, and other cancers)
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- Skin damage and premature aging • Kidney disease
- Liver disease (liver deterioration, liver failure, cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis)
- Muscle degeneration
- Nerve damage
- Nervous disorders
- Psychological disturbances (depression, anxiety, craving, irritability, and insomnia)
- Memory loss
- Violence (commission or victimization)