Drinking too much alcohol—all at once or over an extended period of time—can seriously effect your health. Keep reading this blog post to learn about the adverse effects of alcohol abuse on your body and how you can take action to maintain your health.
What is alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking too much alcohol at one time or too often throughout a week. Alcohol abuse can interfere with your daily life and can significantly harm your relationships. In addition, alcohol abuse can negatively impact your ability to perform at your best in the workplace and in various other areas of your life.
By abusing alcohol, your body can develop a physical dependency on alcohol known as alcoholism. Another important term to be familiar with is alcohol poisoning, which is when you drink too much alcohol at one time for your body to process.
For your reference, one alcoholic drink is defined as a one 12-ounce bottle of beer; one 5-ounce glass of wine; or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (such as whiskey, rum, or tequila).
You are abusing alcohol when...
You drink 7 drinks per week or more than 3 drinks per occasion (for women).
You drink more than 14 drinks per week or more than 4 drinks per occasion (for men).
You have more than 7 drinks per week or more than 3 drinks per occasion (for men and women older than 65).
Consuming these amounts of alcohol harms your health, relationships, work, and/or causes legal problems.
Symptoms of alcohol abuse
If you recognize any of these symptoms of alcohol abuse in yourself, it may be time to take action and guard your health against alcoholism.
You have tried to stop using alcohol for a week or more, but can’t make it past a few days.
You can’t stop drinking once you start.
You recognize that you need need to stop drinking or cut back on drinking.
You are unable to perform your roles at work or home when you are drinking.
You feel guilt after drinking.
Others are telling you that you have a problem.
You feel annoyed by any criticism of your drinking.
You have a drink in the morning to get yourself going after drinking too much the night before.
You have physically hurt someone else or yourself after drinking too much. (This could be due to an accident or violence).
You hide your drinking or your alcohol.
You have blackouts and memory lapses after drinking too much.
You are depressed.
You are getting traffic or driving tickets while under the influence of alcohol.
Your drinking is interfering with your relationships.
Your hands shake as a result of drinking.
Effects of alcohol abuse on your body
By drinking excessively over a long period of time, alcohol usage can damage vital organ systems in your body. The many health risks of alcohol abuse include:
Cardiovascular health risks
Alcohol can cause permanent heart damage and raised cholesterol levels.
Brain health risks
The long-term effects of alcohol on the brain can cause an impact on memory, learning, and behavior. Alcohol abuse can also result in brain shrinkage through a loss of grey and white brain matter.
Liver health risks
Alcohol abuse increases the risk of fatty liver (steatosis), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Pancreatic health risks
Alcohol abuse can lead to vitamin deficiencies, the development of pancreatitis, and difficulty properly digesting food and absorbing nutrients.
Immune system risks.
Drinking too much for too long can impair your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.
Increased likelihood of cancer
The development of many different types of cancers can be influenced by alcohol, a known carcinogen.
Skeletal health risks
Alcohol can weaken your bones, causing an increased risk of fractures and broken bones. High levels of uric acid and gout are more common in people that abuse alcohol.
How to take action
If you are suffering from alcoholism, know that you are not alone.
Seek help to retake control of your life and your health by clicking on the link below to search trusted sources and find professionals who provide quality care.
In the meantime, adopt practices such as counting your drinks, pacing yourself, drinking glasses of water as spacers, learning how to say no to drinks and eating a full meal prior to drinking.