Whether you’re a social or a binge drinker, alcohol can have short and long term consequences on your body and mind. The physical and psychological effects can sometimes even be fatal.
According to recent statistics, over 15 million Americans suffer from an alcohol abuse disorder or alcoholism and the number shows no sign of slowing down. The more you know about the side effects of alcohol, the more you can control your consumption.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Read on to learn about the best and worst effects of alcohol on your body.
It’s not all bad news. A bit of drinking can have some health benefits. And, alcohol isn’t only good for drinking, this site lists all the uses of alcohol in our daily lives as discovered by Eva Ekeblad.
Getting wasted every weekend is never a great idea for your physical and mental wellbeing. However, one drink a day could lead you to see some health benefits.
Please remember that all of these studies were carried out by university research teams and the results are conclusive until a new study proves otherwise.
#1 The Lowered Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
A few glasses of alcohol per week can raise the ‘good’ cholesterol levels in our bloodstreams. ‘Good’ cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein HDL and it protects the heart against disease. It’s also beneficial in preventing small blood clots from forming in the arteries of the heart, neck, and brain.
#2 Decreased Chances of Developing Dementia
Moderate drinkers are 23% less likely to develop cognitive impairments as seen in a report in a medical journal called Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. Small doses of alcohol can make the brain cells fit and healthy.
#3 Decreased Chances of Diabetes
A Dutch study shows that healthy adults who have a habit of drinking one or two glasses of alcohol have less chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Other health benefits include the reduced risk of developing gallstones by consuming two units of alcohol per day. Non-smoking moderate drinkers have a better chance of fighting off the common cold and a new study shows that alcohol can actually protect against erectile dysfunction, despite the popular belief that it’s detrimental to a man’s libido.
Even if a person doesn’t drink regularly, they’ll still face short term effects when they take the first sip. The liver can metabolize one standard alcoholic drink in an hour but that varies with gender, age, weight, and a person’s own metabolism speed. Consuming more than one drink in an hour can raise the drinker’s blood alcohol content and lead to intoxication.
The short-effects can range from mild skin flushing to severe vomiting or passing out.
#1 Bad Judgments and Decisions
Alcohol is the most common mind-altering substance in the world. It’s the must-have for any hot-and-happening party even though it’s a depressant. But, not just any depressant. Alcohol’s effect works differently on an individual depending on their mood, emotions, actions and reactions. It changes the way a person thinks and feels and it influences their actions.
A few drinks can make you social and outgoing, but a bit more and you’re slurring your words, falling down, becoming aggressive, or just making a fool out of yourself.
Alcohol basically changes our brain chemistry which can impact our behavior, thinking, memory, and bodily functions. As you lose the power to think rationally, you’re more prone to accidents, engaging in criminal behavior, being open to drugs, having violent outbursts, engaging in unsafe or unwanted sexual encounters, and endangering yourself.
#2 Blurred Vision
Blurred vision is a temporary setback after one too many drinks but it also wears off quickly. But regular or hardcore drinking can result in permanent damage to the optic vision and the brain’s ability to process vision.
Red or bloodshot eyes after a few drinks can indicate dehydration. Changes in blood pressure enlarges the blood vessel and also causes dry eyes.
Other short term side effects include loss of coordination, difficulty concentrating, a lack of critical judgment, mood swings, a reduced core body temperature, vomiting, and passing out.
The cumulative effect of heavy drinking can lead to life-threatening ailments. According to reports, 88,000 people die every year in the USA and heavy drinkers can take off at least 30 years of their lives.
#1 Liver Damage
The liver breaks down and removes harmful substances from our body, including alcohol. Long term heavy drinking can interfere with this process. Heavy drinking increases the risk of liver disease and chronic inflammation which can cause scarring known as cirrhosis. These scar tissues destroy the liver and a damaged liver has a hard time removing toxins from the body.
Liver diseases are life-threatening as they lead to a build-up of toxins and waste in the body
#2 Brain Damage
One of the first signs of drunk behavior is slurred speech. Alcohol can weaken the communication between the brain and the rest of the body. This makes co-ordination tricky.
Over time, heavy drinking can wreak havoc on your central nervous system. Damage to the frontal lobe of the brain leads to the inability to think clearly and rationally or make wise choices. You’ll be unable to control your emotions and, most importantly, this damage to the brain will affect your long–term memories.
Severe alcohol abuse can cause permanent brain damage such as the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
#3 Digestive and Endocrine Glands Damage
Drinking too much can activate digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas. This abnormal activation can build up enzymes and cause inflammation known as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can have a serious long-term impact.
Heavy drinking also leads to gassiness, bloating, diarrhea and painful stools. There’s also a chance of ulcers and hemorrhoids developing due to prolonged dehydration and constipation.
The worst possible side effect is cancer in the mouth, throat, esophagus, colon or liver. The risk doubles for people who regularly smoke tobacco and drink alcohol. The immune system, muscle system, sexual and reproductive health, and circulatory system can all be affected by long-term alcohol consumption.
On a global scale, alcohol consumption increased by 70% in the last decade. Alcohol abuse has cost the US over $249 billion dollars in the last year. Alcohol can be linked to over 60 medical conditions. Astonishingly, humans have been drinking and using alcohol for the last nine thousand years!
This tells us that this mind-altering drug is here to stay and it’s up to us to regulate our consumption and use it to our benefit!