We’re taught from a young age that alcohol abuse has it’s risks. It’s common knowledge that when we’re drinking we can get hurt, feel sick, and get alcohol poisoning if we have too much. Even the advertisements and bottles of alcoholic drinks themselves blast warnings at us because it’s the law. The Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (ABLA) of 1988 makes it mandatory for all alcoholic beverage manufacturers to put a little warning on their labels.
There’s no doubt about it; drinking too much can do us some serious damage. Although light drinking has its risks too, we’re going to focus on the 8 consequences alcohol abuse has on our health.
First of all, what counts as Alcohol Abuse?
Nearly 90% of Americans have experimented with drinking at some point in their lives. Fortunately, most of these people never develop a physical dependence or addiction to alcohol. Here at intervention.com, we recognize that most of us can have a healthy relationship with drinking.
Unfortunately however, there are about 18 million Americans that do begin to abuse alcohol. Alcohol dependence is the inability to control when, where and how much someone drinks. This lack of control is the disease of addiction that can lead to both physical and emotional dependence on alcohol.
Take a look at these criteria for alcohol abuse to get an idea of how your own drinking patterns compare.
- Drinking is causing you to slip up frequently at work, school, or home. Maybe you have repeated absences, poor work performance, suspensions, expulsions, or have been neglecting the children lately.
- Alcohol has been causing you to take more risks than usual. These risks might include driving under the influence or engaging in other dangerous behaviors.
- Recently you’ve been getting into legal trouble because of alcohol.
- Despite how much alcohol negatively impacts your life, you continue to drink. Even when you start to lose friends, lovers, or family relationships, you don’t stop using alcohol.
How does your drinking style compare? Alcohol abuse, and even just heavy or frequent drinking can harm your health in serious ways. Let’s get into the 8 ways that alcohol abuse damages your health.
The 8 ways alcohol abuse damages you health
Alcohol interferes with our body’s ability to absorb nutrients. It causes heavy drinker to develop chronic gastritis, which means your digestive track is always a bit inflamed. Digesting and processing alcohol requires high amounts of niacin and vitamin B. Chronically having to process alcohol means you will use up niacin and vitamin B, depleting your body of two essential nutrients.
Additionally, alcohol is high in calories but deficient in other necessary nutrients. When we drink a lot, we’re meeting our calorie needs but not our nutrient needs. Over time, the combined effects of a weakened digestive track and inadequate nutrient intake leads to malnutrition.
The leading cause of pancreatitis is alcohol abuse. It causes chronic pain and discomfort in the upper portion of the belly. Pancreatitis can also lead to digestive impairments and diabetes.
3. Liver Disease
The liver is the organ that does most of the work of processing alcohol. This means that it also takes quite a big hit. Alcohol abuse overtime can lead to fatty liver, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Sometimes, the only treatment for an alcohol damaged liver is to receive a transplant.
Alcohol abuse increases our risk for getting cancer. In 1988 the World Health Organization stated that “There is sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of alcoholic beverages in humans…. Alcoholic beverages are carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).” Carcinogens are cancer causing chemicals that we should avoid when possible. Scientists estimate about 4% of all cancer deaths are related to alcohol consumption.
5. Brain Damage
Imaging tests show that alcohol abuse leads to lesions on the brain. Alcohol contributes to brains damage in two ways. Alcohol toxicity directly harms brain tissue. Previous damage to the liver, and alcohol-induced malnutrition also contribute to brain damage.
20% of admissions to mental health facilities have to do with alcohol related brain damage.
6. Weight Gain
Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram which is only slightly less than pure fat! Because alcohol provides so many calories, we may gain weight while drinking even though we’re under-nourished.
7. Sexual Dysfunction
Men, alcohol can wreak havoc on your sexual abilities! Alcohol abuse, especially when accompanied by liver cirrhosis, causes testicular atrophy. This means, that alcohol shrinks and weakens the testicles resulting in lower testosterone levels. Sadly, the lowered testosterone means less sex drive and impotence.
8. Skin Disorders
Drinking too much over time causes a whole myriad of skin conditions. Not only is alcohol dehydrating for your skin, it can disrupt blood flow and natural functioning in skin cells. All of the following skin conditions are connected to alcohol use:
- Discoid eczema
- Spider veins
- Yellowed skin due to liver cirrhosis
- Thickened skin on the nose and cheeks
- Permanent redness and flushing
- Visible arteries on the face
Alcohol abuse is detrimental to our health. This is why we should try to manage a drinking problem as early as possible. Please reach out to us at intervention.com so we can connect you with the treatment you need to protect your health.