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What Are 5 Dangers of Alcohol? 5 Negative Effects on Health

Even trace amounts of alcohol can have long-term negative effects on your physical and mental health.

Alcohol consumption is a personal choice, and many find it to be a wonderful relaxant or enjoy the pleasure it produces. You must, however, remember that alcohol is a psychoactive drug that produces addiction. Like all substances, alcohol harms your health, especially if you drink excessively every day or in binge episodes. Even trace quantities of alcohol have been related to cause various negative effects.

Some consequences of alcohol are immediate and last just a short time; others build over time and can have a large effect on your physical and mental health, as well as your quality of life.

The amount of harm that alcohol does your body varies on:

  • How much you drink
  • How frequently do you drink
  • The quality of the alcohol you drink

Other elements that influence the effect of alcohol include:

  • Age
  • Body size and composition
  • Drinking history
  • Genetics
  • Nutritional condition
  • Metabolism

5 dangers of alcohol

Five dangers of alcohol include:

  • Injuries:
    • Effects of alcohol on cognitive and psychomotor performance can have hazardous and fatal physical consequences. Alcohol can weaken inhibitions, making you more prone to make impulsive, illogical, or reckless decisions, which can lead to a loss of control and various outcomes, including violence or accidents.
    • Alcohol contributes to the following:
      • Lethal burn injuries
      • Fatal motor vehicle accidents
      • Severe trauma injuries
      • Sexual assaults
      • Suicides
      • Homicides
      • Fatal falls
      • Drowning
      • Devastating consequences of alcohol during pregnancy for both mother and baby 
  • Self-harm:
    • Alcohol can cause you to act impulsively, which can lead to behaviors people would not have performed otherwise, such as self-harm or suicide. There is a strong link between binge drinking (chronic or acute alcohol abuse) and suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and suicide death.
    • Extreme drinking (drinking more than 30 units per day for many weeks) can occasionally result in psychosis, a serious mental disease characterized by hallucinations and delusions such as persecution. Psychosis can be produced by both acute intoxication and withdrawal, and they are more prevalent when dependent drinkers abruptly cease drinking.
  • Alcohol poisoning:
    • A large percentage of alcohol users end up in the emergency department each year as a result of alcohol poisoning. This occurs when excessive alcohol consumption affects the central nervous system, decreasing respiration and heart rate. Alcohol disrupts the gag reflex that increases the danger of choking if you vomit from alcohol intoxication.
      • Indications of alcohol poisoning include:
        • Vomiting
        • Seizures
        • Pale skin
        • Loss of consciousness
    • This is a medical situation that requires immediate attention. It has the potential to cause brain damage or death.
  • Depression:
    • Heavy and frequent drinking is linked to depressive symptoms; however, it is not always clear if drinking alcohol causes a person to feel depressive symptoms.
    • Alcohol has an effect on various nerve-chemical systems in your body that are vital in mood regulation. Studies report that excessive drinking might lead to depression, and reducing the use or discontinuing alcohol use may boost mood.
  • Vandalism:
    • Destruction of public or private property (vandalism) and unlawful crime are often committed by people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Vandalism affects schools, residences, businesses, and parks.
    • Cities spend hundreds of dollars each year to tackle this crime.
    • College students (usually in communal living conditions) frequently engage in binge drinking, which frequently leads to vandalism.
      • Vandalism is related to various activities that include:
        • Graffiti writing
        • Destruction of public property such as streetlights, street signs, and park benches
        • Damage to private property such as automobiles and store windows and even theft
        • Destruction of trees and shrubs 
        • Starting a fire
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    5 negative effects of alcohol on health

    Any quantity of alcohol may harm your body’s health and fitness, and the danger begins the moment you take a drink.

    An estimated 95,000 individuals (about 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes each year. More than half of those deaths are due to long-term health effects such as heart or liver disease from excessive drinking.

  • Heart health: Heavy and binge drinking can lead to heart disease or stroke. It can cause an increase in blood fat levels (triglycerides), damage to the inner lining of blood vessels, high blood pressure, and stroke. It can result in cardiomyopathy (heart muscle weakness) and heart-rhythm disorders such as atrial and ventricular fibrillation.
  • Liver damage: Alcohol causes liver inflammation, and long-term drinking can lead to scarring of liver tissue, which can progress to cirrhosis, a potentially deadly condition in which the liver is permanently damaged. The danger increases with the amount of time you have been drinking. Cirrhosis does not affect all heavy drinkers, but it appears to run in families and affects women more frequently than men.
  • Dementia: Heavy drinking can harm the brain, causing memory loss and certain dementia symptoms. Some signs of dementia, such as poor judgment and trouble making decisions, might be mimicked by alcohol-related brain damage. Long-term heavy alcohol use can lead to Korsakoff’s syndrome, a disorder in which people have short-term memory loss. Furthermore, heavy drinking can cause nutritional deficits, which might contribute to dementia symptoms.
  • Anemia: Excessive alcohol use can harm the hematopoietic system, which includes the blood cells, spleen, bone marrow, and liver. It can trigger anemia, a disease in which your red blood cell count is unusually low. Anemia symptoms include weariness, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness.
  • Immune system damage: Alcohol depletes the immune system, which results in an increased incidence of infections. Chronic drinkers are more likely to get illnesses such as pneumonia and tuberculosis than nondrinkers. Drinking a lot on a single occasion reduces your body’s ability to fight infections.
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    Medically Reviewed on 4/21/2022

    References

    Image Source: iStock image

    Alcohol Use and Your Health: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm

    College Students and the Dangers of Binge Drinking: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=1924

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