Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and the substance in beers, wines, liquors, etc. Ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient found in these drinks. Though alcohol is a legal substance, abuse and addiction of it remains a valid issue in society. It is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and actually effects every organ in your body. There are definitely some health risks involved with heavy drinking. When you’re intoxicated, it can impair your brain function and motor skills.

Long term use can increase the risk of getting certain cancers (such as pancreatic, breast or cancer of the liver). In fact, heavy drinking (which would be 6 units per day) can increase the risk of breast cancer by 55%. Additionally, cirrhosis and pancreatitis are both conditions, which are related to heavy drinking.

A lot of people are unaware of these facts, as beers and wines are often promoted for their antioxidants, not keeping in mind the people who might have an abuse issue and drink to excess. Specifically, the amount of alcohol consumed is directly related to the drinker’s risk of these cancers. These type of research findings date back to 1988.

Why People Use Alcohol

Alcohol is widely used to act as a stress reliever. People all over the world often treat it as the reward to an otherwise overwhelming work week, or word day for that matter, delving into a cocktail or two to relax that overworked and worried mind. It’s commonly used as a way to tone down stress at the least, and escape at the most. However, alcohol consumption can be problematic when the drinker can’t tell the difference between enough and too much.

Alcohol is an addictive substance, and habitual drinking all too often leads to an addiction or dependency. Due to the fact that it’s so normal these days to go out drinking as a mutually shared recreational activity among friends, the risk for abuse and addiction seems to be growing yet beneath the surface. All too often bars have potential to breed depravity, whether they know it or not. A lot of times when someone is at the brink of a drinking problem, they really have no idea. Their friends have no idea. It can be hard to tell in the midst of it all. The widespread socially acceptable array of fancy cocktails concocted by mixologists paints a rather pretty picture. It’s because of this that it’s a lot more difficult to pinpoint when somebody has a drinking problem. It can continuously be mistaken for just having a good time.

Alcohol Abuse

Normally when somebody’s drinking in order to deal with buried negative feelings, or some particular problem, it can actually lead to problem drinking. Some signs of alcohol abuse are neglecting your work and commitments or other responsibilities due to drinking (especially due to hangovers), continuing drinking even if it’s affecting your relationships and drinking as a way to avoid problems. One significant factor in all this is tolerance, and the role it plays. As the drinker’s tolerance increases, they have to drink more and more in order to feel the effects of alcohol. Sometimes it can get so bad that it’s extremely difficult for them to even feel drunk or buzzed anymore.

This is one of the first warning signs of alcohol addiction. Another warning sign is if the drinker is getting withdrawal symptoms whenever they aren’t drinking.

Some of these withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Trembling
  • Anxiety

In a severe case the person can even experience hallucinations, confusion, fever, seizures and agitation (these ones in particular can actually be dangerous).

There are a few other signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction worth mentioning. One of these are when the drinker ends up drinking more or for a longer period of time than they had planned and despite promises to themselves that they would do otherwise.

Another sign is the case of the drinker who keeps trying to quit or at least lower their intake, yet can’t bring themselves to put down the bottle and is perpetually futile in their efforts. Then there’s the case of the drinker who literally would rather drink than participate in activities which they were once involved in and fond of. Usually the drinker will end up with barely any activities, hobbies or interests that don’t involve drinking. Then there is the situation of the drinker who sees a litany of problems resulting from their alcohol abuse, yet they continue to drink anyway, acting with a full-blown irresponsible approach to their problem.

Alcohol Addiction

All too often, people look at alcohol addiction with a distorted perception because it’s legal, and at times can seem harmless. It’s hard for a majority of people in society today to clearly view alcohol addiction as the legitimate predicament that it is. It’s a false statement and a common myth when people say that just because somebody doesn’t drink everyday means they don’t have an alcohol addiction. If the drinker’s drinking habits affect their life or any aspect of their life in a negative way, then it should be cause for concern. The focus should be on the results from said drinking habits, not an examination of what was consumed and how much.

Not everybody responds to alcohol exactly the same. While someone might be allergic to gluten and find problems every time they drink beer, another person might experience a negative response to sulfites in wine, etc. Some people seem to get addicted to alcohol, while others can remain composed and moderate with their drinking. The variables are obviously not very limited. Another myth worth exploiting is the all too common one when people say that they can hold a job and therefore they aren’t addicted to alcohol. Just because your work life is in order does not take away from an alcohol addiction. In fact, if the addict doesn’t start to get help then their career life can be in danger.

This is because eventually the addiction can become so severe as to put their work ethic in jeopardy in some way or another. The addiction doesn’t necessarily have to run every aspect of their life in order to be an addiction. And it’s better to pinpoint a problem early on, than before it’s too late and it does end up running every aspect.

Furthermore, alcohol has a dehydrating effect and can make for a nasty hangover. Usually a hangover from alcohol can include a headache, nausea, fatigue, thirst, vomiting and shakiness. Drinking to excess affects your body in ways that lead to the hangover stage, such as causing a drop in blood sugar, triggering nausea due to the acidity in the stomach and causing the drinker to urinate more frequently. Most drinkers find it hard to function when they’re hungover and aren’t even able to focus on what they had planned due to the unpleasant effects from a hangover. In conclusion, drinking to excess can lead to many undesirable consequences, only one of which includes a hangover. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to alcohol it would be wise to enroll in a rehabilitation program for treatment as soon as possible.

By Erica D'Arcangelo