According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 14 million adults suffer from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD). Its impact is so dire that alcohol-related deaths rank as the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. AUD claims about 88,000 lives annually, and this figure might take over the top two causes (tobacco use and an unhealthy lifestyle) anytime soon.
Drinking alcohol is not a problem by itself – a lot of people do so to celebrate or socialize. However, the problem arises when someone takes excessive amounts to the point that it affects his health – be it physically or mentally. You might not know it, but it’s affecting your life in several ways:
You just can’t seem to stop – no matter what you do.
Quitting alcohol is a hard thing to do especially if you have been drinking for so long. That’s because alcoholism induces changes to the brain, according to experts from the Scripps Research Institute in California.
Prolonged exposure to alcohol modifies the neural circuits that govern motivation, stress, arousal, and reward. Vital molecules such as dopamine and serotonin are also affected. These desensitize the brain to the effects of alcohol – thereby leading to the inability to stop drinking. Worse, there is the compulsion to drink even more to get the ‘usual high’ that comes with drinking alcohol.
You often suffer from pesky hangovers.
A hangover is one of the most unpleasant effects that come after heavy alcohol drinking. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, weakness, and muscle aches, to name a few.
These effects can last up to 24 hours, as a result, they can interfere with your daily life. Apart from affecting your work and other commitments, such can lead you to live an unhealthy lifestyle. For example, when you nurse a tremendous headache, you forego exercising – or cooking healthy food. Instead, you remain slumped on the couch – sedentary and eating junk food from your pantry. Combine these with alcohol’s effects on the body (these will be discussed below) and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a shortened life.
You are no longer able to perform your duties normally.
Impaired memory, slowed reaction times, blurred vision, slurred speech, and difficulty speaking – these are just some of the effects of alcohol in the body. It’s hard to do your work – no matter how easy or complicated it might be – when your mind is drawing a blank. Not only will this affect your productivity, but it might also affect your employment status.
You have dysfunctional relationships.
Apart from affecting your health, alcohol can influence your relationships as well. It can lower your inhibitions, as well as trigger violent episodes. For most couples, the usual problems encountered jealousy, infidelity, violence, and marital conflict – all of which can lead to divorce later on. Children usually suffer from the brunt of this, with as much as 28.6% of the youth population encountering alcohol issues in the family.
You are not as healthy as you used to be.
Alcohol impacts almost all the systems in the body. Prolonged exposure can lead to high blood pressure, liver damage, and pancreatitis, to name a few. It can also increase one’s risk of developing esophageal and breast cancer.
Symptoms of these disorders are painful and cumbersome, and they often lead to hospitalization. According to the National Institutes of Health, as much as 29,000 confinements are due to alcoholism – resulting in $1.2 billion in expenses for the bracket of 18-24 year-olds alone.
You experience financial difficulties.
Alcohol is an expensive vice. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans spend as much as $249 billion every year over alcohol. Three-fourths of this expenditure comes from binge drinkers or those who consume 4 or more drinks per day.
Because of its capacity to lower one’s inhibitions. Alcohol often leads to financial problems. Most end up spending more than they are supposed to in the liquor store or the bar. This is further complicated by the internet age as there is no need to get out to buy liquor. Now, you can get your alcohol fix right in the comfort of your own home!
Apart from draining your savings, alcohol can affect your income stream as well. The days you miss work because of hangovers mean lost revenue – imagine if you do that several times a week. As if getting a big cut on your paycheck is not enough, you stand to lose your job as well – and this can lead to an even more vicious cycle of alcoholism. Getting none and spending more – now that’s an even bigger blow on your finances.
You may get entangled in legal problems.
Alcohol lowers inhibition so much so that you might find yourself locked behind bars after a drinking frenzy. Such effects were presented in a study published in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Journal. According to the authors, alcohol can increase the risks of aggressive behavior, precarious sexual conduct, and motor vehicular accidents.
Violent behavior is common in alcoholics, with a handful of crimes occurring due to intoxication. 27% of aggravated assault causes can be attributed to alcohol users, while as much as 40% of homicide suspects admit to using alcohol before or after the crime. This is just in the United States. Globally speaking, as much as 25% of homicides in the world involve alcohol.
High-risk sexual behavior is another factor that may lead to problems with the law. More than increasing your chances of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases, alcoholic influence can lead to the act of sexual assault. Statistics show that as much as 37% of perpetrators were under the influence of alcohol.
As for motor vehicular accidents, the CDC states that about 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States are due to alcohol impairment. With these scary statistics, there is a huge possibility that you might get involved in legal woes – if you continue with your binge episodes.
Alcohol affects many aspects of your life – physically, mentally, emotionally, or socially. It can destroy relationships and it can even lead you to jail. If you are afraid to lose your partner, your work, and your freedom – then consider these effects before you go and drink yourself to oblivion.
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