Everyone drinks, it seems. In social interactions from casual after-work drinks to bigger celebrations like weddings, alcohol usually plays an integral part. After all, it is legal to drink and a slight buzz can be fun. So what are the dangers of alcohol? First and foremost, the overconsumption of alcohol is very dangerous in more than one way.
Driving after overindulging is dangerous. Deaths from driving under the influence (DUI) increase in number yearly. Alcohol Addiction is another danger of alcohol, but not everyone is or will become an alcoholic.
Another danger of alcohol use is being studied. That is the phenomenon of binge drinking. Once thought to be the method most preferred by college students in fraternities and at parties, there is new evidence about this dangerous and widespread form of drinking.
Health risks are numerous for those who drink regularly and heavily, with or without dependence on alcohol.
Alcohol has social uses, many of them. Most businessmen have drinks to negotiate transactions to close a deal. It is common to drink at parties, whether they are social occasions, or family events, such as weddings, holiday gatherings, funerals, or graduation parties. Alcohol is a large part of life worldwide. Few cultures eschew alcohol completely, but many are aware of its insidious intrusion into the fiber of life for those who abuse alcohol.
Regular drinking has few ill effects. In fact, many doctors proclaim a daily glass of red wine to have health benefits that are important and many. Social drinking has little to demonize it, however, but there is a fine line that many eventually cross–-the line between social drinking and drunkenness.
Most persons are able to imbibe a cocktail or two at the end of their day without dire consequences as alcohol can have a relaxing and calming effect. It allows them to “unwind” after a stressful day and to segue from work environment to their home realm with comfort and ease. Tension is reduced and they transition into their family’s evening activities. They do not drink every day, nor do they miss it overmuch when they do not. Many incorporate a glass of wine with meals. Restaurants oftentimes suggest serving certain food without wine pairings. These are facts of life for millions of people all over the world.
When Is It Problem Drinking?
Those who are alcohol dependent do not have a means for controlling their liquor consumption. One drink becomes two and three, then four and five, then six and so on. They cannot say how much they will drink when it begins, nor can they always stop. An old saying is, “He takes the drink, then the drink takes him.” This is called problem drinking, and may lead to alcoholism.
When consequences weigh heavily on the person exhibiting drinking behavior, they may or may not try to curtail their drinking. If they succeed in their attempts to stop, they probably do NOT have an alcohol problem. It is when they want to stop, ought to stop, have every reason to stop, and yet CANNOT stop, that they may have an addiction to alcohol. The only person who can determine if alcohol is a problem is the person him or herself. While others may witness numerous episodes of heavy drinking that seem a problem, only that person can make that decision.
Heavy Drinking Problems
Dangers for those who overconsume alcohol are many. Publicly, their behavior may be injurious to themselves or others. Because alcohol removes the safety features most people have within them, (their filters for behaviors and ways of thinking), those who are indulging heavily do risky things. They become social risks, become combatant, obnoxious, and rude in public settings. Most communities have laws regarding public intoxication for this purpose. Loud and boisterous behavior may be considered good, clean fun, until it is no longer fun. Clumsy and off balance due to the effects of alcohol, drinkers may fall and hurt themselves and others. Then they may get angry and belligerent. Fights occur, feelings get hurt, and people are injured by those who have had “one too many.”
Driving a car under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. Daily people are hurt and killed in accidents caused by drivers under the influence. A blood alcohol content of .08, which can occur for many people with as few as two drinks within an hour, is the legal limit. This amount is deceptive, because a large man, having eaten a big meal, may drink this much and not show the effects. However, most people will begin to feel alcohol’s effects. They have loosened up, become somewhat dizzy and/or lightheaded, their balance is compromised, response time is shortened, vision is becoming blurred, and their senses are dulled. Many may not recognize these symptoms. Hence, one danger of drinking is denial of the impact it has. A feeling of omnipotence and power accompany the effects of cocktails. Many will proclaim they are “just fine” and in great shape to drive.
Brain damage is caused in several ways by drinking. As drinking behavior escalates, cell damage occurs on various levels. Shrinkage of the brain occurs for everyone, over time. Heavy drinking is known to cause this shrinking to occur much faster. Another type of harm to the brain is thiamine deficiency, which occurs in 80% of alcoholics. Serious impairment occurs with Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, caused by thiamine deficiency. Symptoms include mental confusion and lack of balance and often go undiagnosed, due to the lack of knowledge.
Liver disease, such as cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and fatty liver are caused by alcohol. More than 2 million drinkers nationwide suffer from alcohol-based liver disease. The toxins not filtered from the blood by a damaged liver travel to the brain, causing further damage.
Heart disease, especially for women drinkers, is a high risk. Hypertension, irregular heartbeat, and strokes are caused by the heart muscles that become damaged with heavy drinking.
Pancreatitis, most often caused by drinking, can lead to diabetes and even death. Pancreatitis is often a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.