Alcohol is not inherently bad just like drinking responsibly and in moderation is not dangerous. However, underage drinking, binge drinking, or long term heavy drinking can have serious negative impacts on your body.
According to “Know Your Limits,” alcohol can cause weight gain because it is high in calories. It also dehydrates your body and skin, especially if you are engaging in physical activity. “Know Your Limits” also states: “Alcohol dehydrates your body and skin. It also widens blood vessels, causing your skin to look red or blotchy.” Excessive drinking can cause disruptions to normal sleeping patterns and can cause insomnia, making it hard to fall asleep. In turn, the loss of sleep contributes to stress and anxiety.
While there are dangers to drinking that come from outside forces, such as drinking and driving or bad decision-making which can lead to injury, there are also serious consequences from the simple act of imbibing. Many people know about the dangerous effect of alcohol on the liver, such as the increased likelihood of cirrhosis. However, Freeman states that researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases, including anemia, cancer, dementia, depression, seizures, nerve damage, and pancreatitis.
According to both Freeman, drinking can cause the pancreas to become inflamed. Chronic pancreatitis can cause severe pain in the abdomen, vomiting, and fever. Pancreatitis is not a curable condition and can be fatal. Sixty percent pancreatitis cases are a result of alcohol consumption. Alcohol is also toxic to nerve cells; it can cause nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy. It can produce painful pins and needles feeling and numbness in the arms and legs, says Freeman.
Know Your Limits says that seven types of cancer have been linked to alcohol usage. This does not mean that everyone who drinks will get cancer, but scientists have recognized an increased occurrence of some cancers among those who drink. Bowel cancer, breast cancer, three types of throat cancer (laryngeal, oesophageal, and pharyngeal), liver cancer, and mouth cancer are linked to high alcohol usage. Alcohol consumption is the second largest risk factor for cancer, with only smoking being a larger risk factor, says Freeman.
Alcohol suppresses the immune system and makes it easier for infectious diseases to gain access to the body. Tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, and STDs are less likely to be fought off by your immune system when overindulging in alcohol, especially because people are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour when their decision-making is inhibited by alcohol. According to Freeman and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these can lead to lifelong contagions which could result in other long-term health issues, such as infertility.
According to Alcoholism Treatment California, Alcohol is classified as a depressant. A depressant is a class of drugs which affect the function of the central nervous system causing impairments to both physical and psychological activity. Alcoholism Treatment California states that alcohol blocks messages from nerve receptors and alters an individual’s judgement, perceptions, emotions, and reflexes by depressing the CNS. It is only when misuse and abuse of alcohol occurs that symptoms of depression can develop.
Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, can be developed or exacerbated by the use of alcohol, says Freeman. There is discussion about whether drinking causes depression or depression leads to drinking. Alcoholism Treatment California explain that some researchers theorize that people struggling with depression use alcohol to self-medicate, while others believe the heavy drinking leads to depression.
According to “Know Your Limits,” alcohol has been linked as a major factor toward 65 per cent of suicides. Among young people, approximately 30 per cent of suicides occur while the individual is intoxicated. Alcohol is considered the most widely consumed drug and has inherent risks associated with its misuse and abuse.