Alcohol, the social lubricant. It is the source of many wild and crazy stories. Enter any social hotspot and you’re bound to hear tales of recent drinking escapades. While many of these stories have humorous elements, there is an underlying behavior of destruction that can have short-term and long-term health risks.
There are a myriad of health issues that are linked to abusive drinking. In the short-term, alcohol affects motor skills, muscle coordination, and judgment. In the long-term, diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver can deteriorate quality of life. But rarely do alcoholics take these negative effects into account when they drink.
Let’s take a closer look at the health ramifications alcohol can have on our bodies and what types of consequences we can suffer if we continually ignore alcohol’s effects on our bodies.
Short-Term Health Risks
Drunkenness is the most desired effect from alcohol. As you consume more and more alcohol, you can start to feel the physical changes in your body. First, your inhibitions are lowered, which allows you to feel more free and confident. A few more drinks more and you start to feel buzzed and more upbeat. Your judgment begins to be compromised. After experiencing an alcoholic buzz, this is when drunkenness starts to sink in.
Your motor skills deteriorate; speaking is difficult and impaired. Your depth perception is largely inhibited and individuals can suffer from short-term memory loss. Your judgment reaches dangerously low levels. Many cannot will themselves to stop drinking at this stage, and their continued drinking can lead to a state of blacking out. Individuals lose complete memory of events that occur after a blackout. Heavy drinking at this phase can lead to a coma or eventual death.
The consequences of your drinking habits vary depending on what stage of drinking you are in. Earlier stages of drinking can lead to minor social hiccups, such as sharing confidential information, or getting into situations you might not have normally gotten into. But the more excessive your drinking becomes, the greater the risks. Decreased judgment can lead to dangerous behavior such as drinking and driving. This is not only illegal, but it puts your safety and the safety of others at high risk. Violent crime rates also increase as individuals become more intoxicated. Therefore, excessive drinking can have harsh short-term health consequences, which alcoholics often choose to overlook while they concentrate on the jovial buzz.
Long-Term Health Risks
The majority of people know what the short-term health consequences of drinking alcohol can cause, but choose to overlook it. Far fewer people can name the long-term health consequences of alcohol. The list is long and scary if ignored.
- Liver Disease—Chronic drinking can lead to an inflamed liver, known as alcoholic hepatitis. Even worse, heavy drinking over an extended period of time (years) can lead to cirrhosis, which is irreversible scarring of the liver tissue and can cause death.
- Heart Problems—Alcohol can lead to high blood pressure. It also increases your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
- Digestive Problems—Though not as commonly associated with drinking as liver and heart disease, digestive problems are known to increase by drinking. Esophageal ulcers—the inflammation of the pancreas and stomach’s lining—are common and dangerous affects alcohol on your digestive system.
- Diabetic Complications—Alcohol interferes with the release of glucose and increases the risk of low blood sugar. If you are already a diabetic, this has very dangerous consequences for your health.
Drinking alcohol has many, many more negative effects to your health. Eye problems, poor immune system, bone loss, and more can all be attributed to the long, enduring abuse of alcohol. It cannot be understated that any one of these long-term health effects can lead to premature death.
Alcohol is a legal substance that should be consumed in moderate amounts. Once you’ve gone down the slippery path of alcohol abuse, it’s difficult to stop without help. One drink leads to two. Eventually, your body will require more and more alcohol to achieve the desired buzz, or to achieve drunkenness. Soon, your body will be dependent on alcohol.