Drinking alcohol by itself is not harmful. In fact, some studies show that some alcoholic drinks can even bring some health benefits, like better digestion and blood circulation.
Excessive drinking is what’s harmful to health. For instance, three to four shots of a strong alcoholic beverage in one sitting can trigger lots of unpleasant side effects. If people do this daily, they put their health at an even greater risk.
Once people become tolerant to alcohol, their behaviors also begin to change. Alcohol, being a depressant substance, can cause them to develop anxiety or depression. Additionally, the effects of alcohol can seriously affect their decision-making skills. The worst part is that alcoholism destroys their relationships with family, friends, and other loved ones.
If you’re curious about what alcohol abuse does to people, here are its negative effects.
1. Alcohol abuse heightens negative emotions and behaviors
Alcohol is known as a depressant or a substance that gives people feelings of calmness. When they drink moderately, alcohol does have a relaxing effect. However, drinking too much can cause drastic changes in mood and behavior. Below are some side effects of taking alcohol:
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of focus
- Slurred speech
- Sudden changes in mood
- Higher blood pressure
- Short breaths
- Weak reflexes
Individuals with alcoholism find it harder to control their emotions and to think rationally. Moreover, when they feel negative emotions like sadness, anger, or despair, these feelings are magnified. In turn, they have higher chances of getting depression, anxiety, or worse, suicidal tendencies. For example, men who drink too much are more likely to behave violently. Also, sexual assault is quite common in people who are dependent on alcohol.
2. Alcohol is the third leading cause of death in the United States
Based on data from 2015, there have been 88,000 deaths linked to alcoholism in the US. This includes accidents from drunk driving as well as alcohol-related violence.
3. Alcohol addiction can produce behavioral symptoms
When people are not yet addicted to alcohol, the signs may be harder to spot. But once addiction takes hold, the symptoms become more definite, such as:
- Consuming progressively larger amounts of alcohol
- Lack of hangovers
- Drinking more often
- Going to clubs or bars more frequently
- Denying an addiction
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Hiding alcoholic beverages
- Getting irritated easily
- Being physically violent often
4. Withdrawal symptoms make it hard to quit drinking alcohol
When people decide to stop drinking, they would often find the habit hard to break. Once they stop, these withdrawal symptoms would show up quickly:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive sweating
- Uncontrollable shaking of the hands
These symptoms trigger a compulsive “itch” to grab a bottle and drink right away. Because of these, people who try to quit drinking by themselves often find it next to impossible.
But with the proper treatments and professional help, recovering from this addiction is possible.
5. Alcohol abuse causes a wide range of cancers and other diseases
Alcohol is a carcinogen or a substance that causes cancer. Here are some of the different cancers it contributes to:
- Mouth cancer
- Throat cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Colon cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Breast cancer
Aside from these, excess amounts of alcohol inside the body can allow other illnesses to develop, such as:
- Liver cirrhosis
- Cardiomyopathy (weakening of heart muscles)
- Brain damage
6. It is possible to get poisoned with alcohol
The body can only take too much alcohol before giving in. If people drink a lethal amount of it in one sitting, they may suffer from alcohol poisoning. Sometimes, some people unknowingly drink other kinds of alcohol, like methanol, which is highly toxic.
Those with alcohol poisoning have the following symptoms:
- Slow, irregular breathing
- Pale skin
- Low body temperature
These can quickly turn fatal, so immediate medical help is needed for these cases.
In the US, a lot of people are victims of alcohol poisoning, especially those who are heavy drinkers. Statistics show that around six Americans die every day from alcohol poisoning, and most of these are middle-aged men.
7. Alcohol abuse disturbs people’s normal lives
One of the effects of alcohol is it reduces the ability to focus on tasks. In turn, people will abandon their responsibilities, which later on would damage their relationships with their families and friends.
While drinking alcohol as a means of socializing is not bad, becoming dependent on alcohol is harmful. Addiction to the substance takes control of people’s lives, and they end up neglecting the important things and the people they value.
Worse still, some alcohol abusers get involved in crimes like robbery, assault, sexual harassment, child abuse, and even homicide.
8. Many families have been damaged by alcoholism
Children, in particular, are the most traumatized when they live with parents who are alcohol abusers. Such parents tend to be verbally and physically abusive as they take out their heightened negative emotions on the kids. If only one parent is an alcohol abuser, the spouse may take the brunt of these outbursts.
According to statistics, alcoholism is a leading cause of divorce. At least 50% of divorce cases are because of a spouse addicted to alcohol. Also, it’s been found out that for every extra liter of alcohol consumed, the chances of divorce increase by 20%.
9. Alcoholism adversely affects academic performance
Underage drinking is another huge issue in the United States. It is rampant as early as high school. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, alcoholism accounts for over 40% of 12th-grade dropouts.
College students are also affected, as nearly 30% of them routinely missed classes due to alcohol abuse. Moreover, about 20% of them have lower grades.
10. Alcohol abuse costs the US economy millions
These costs include healthcare, law enforcement, property damage, and lost productivity. In North Dakota alone, alcohol abuse has cost the state about $488 million in total. Because of this, many governments choose to tax alcoholic drinks highly to discourage people from buying them. Some states also limit the number of places where people can buy alcohol.