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Drinking Consequences: The Dangers of Alcohol Use Disorder

Consequences of Drinking: Alcohol Risks

Alcohol consumption is a regular adult pastime. Unfortunately, not everyone limits themselves to just one drink or two in the same evening. Some people drink more alcohol in one night than most people drink in a week. This breeds alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Alcohol use disorders stem from an inability to engage in moderate drinking and practice self-restraint. Some people drink to cope with stress while others don’t know their limits.

This constant abuse leads to alcohol problems and health risks.

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Short Term Risks of Excess Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol abuse can have short-term consequences, even for individuals who don’t have AUD. One of the most dangerous pastimes is binge drinking, where people consume 4-5 drinks in two hours. The alcohol goes straight to the head and leaves the person muddled, incoherent and judgment-impaired.

Binge drinking is common among people below the legal drinking age. At college parties, students often engage in fast, heavy drinking because they want to get that buzz without getting caught. When mixed with substance abuse, minors often get paranoid of raids and try to down all the evidence before the cops arrive.

Excessive alcohol use presents the following dangers. In some cases, the person at stake is not an alcoholic, let alone a regular drinker. Some of the worst consequences are faced by people after one night of indiscretion:

  • Alcohol intoxication – This is the most obvious risk. Drunkenness renders people flighty, incoherent, emotional, manic, muddled and sometimes belligerent. Alcohol impairs people’s sense of right and wrong. People do foolish, risky things while intoxicated, such as balancing on ledges.
  • Unprotected sex – People are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors when they’re intoxicated. As people drink, their inhibitions go down. After four or five drinks, a person might take off with an unsafe individual who they just met. Under heavy intoxication, one party might awake with no memory of what took place.
  • Sexually-transmitted diseases – Drunkenness puts people at increased risk of contracting venereal diseases like AIDS, herpes, syphilis and gonorrhea. This can easily happen when people hook up with strangers at parties and bars.
  • Auto accidents – Alcohol impairs one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. The blurred, diminished vision and a reduced sense of space make it difficult for drivers to stay within lanes and see pedestrians and oncoming traffic. 

With reduced inhibitions, drunk drivers are likelier to gun yellow lights. This can result in costly vehicular damage and fatal burn injuries for drunk drivers, passengers and victims.

The risks of alcohol are even greater when the person engages in substance abuse. When beer and hard liquor are mixed with cocaine, LSD, heroin and other drugs, the effects can be mind-numbing, even deadly.

Uppers like coke and ecstasy work as energizers that counteract the depressing effects of alcohol, causing the person to drink more and more. A person could die on his first night of partying from an overdose of drugs and alcohol poisoning.

Special Risks of Alcohol Abuse for Women

The effects of alcohol abuse are especially dangerous for women, who only have half the bodily tolerance as men for alcohol. One drink for a woman is equal to two for a man. Women can get intoxicated far easier when drinking alcohol in social settings. For women, the risks of alcohol misuse include:

  • Unintended pregnancy – Risky, unprotected sex is a common behavior among intoxicated individuals. For women, this means possible unwanted pregnancies during one-night stands. Given that women are horniest when they ovulate and that alcohol lowers inhibition, the risks are twofold.
  • Sexual assault – People often put themselves in risky situations when they get intoxicated in public. When women go out and engage in heavy drinking, they run the risk of being taken advantage of by male friends and strangers. Many sexual assaults and rapes involve alcohol.
  • Breast cancer – Alcohol misuse can raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk is partly due to estrogen levels, which spike with alcohol use.

In public or private, women should limit their alcohol consumption to two drinks per day. Those who can’t stick to moderate drinking should refrain from alcohol or contact a rehab center.

Long-Term Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse

When excessive drinking spirals into alcohol use disorder, a range of long-term problems come into play. The adverse effects of alcohol consumption include life-threatening health problems and alcohol-related diseases. The risks of alcohol addiction include:

  • Liver disease – The liver removes alcohol toxins before they enter the bloodstream. When the liver gets overwhelmed by large quantities of pure alcohol, it can’t do its function properly. Liver disease is a huge blow to a person’s immune system.
  • Heart disease – Overconsumption of alcohol causes all kinds of cardiovascular problems, including irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure. People with AUD are at great risk for hypertension and heart attack.
  • Nerve damage – Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. This can lead to slowed breathing, respiratory problems and strokes.
  • Brain damage – Strokes occur when nerve cells get damaged in the brain. Alcohol can also impair brain development in young people and have cumulative effects on a person’s clarity and comprehension skills.

Alcohol dependence can lead to multiple chronic diseases like the ones listed here. As such, restraint from alcohol abuse and rehab for AUD are forms of disease control.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The effects of alcohol abuse are especially devastating on fetuses. Pregnant women should stop drinking alcoholic beverages until after they deliver. The negative health effects on alcohol of fetuses include:

  • Abnormal appearance – Babies exposed to alcohol in the womb are at risk of developing abnormal features, such as thin lips, small eye openings and short noses. These features can cause vision and hearing problems.
  • Physical problems – Babies exposed to alcohol in the womb are at risk of poor physical development. They might be born with low body weight and abnormally small bodies. Consequently, they could have poor physical coordination that might be difficult to overcome.
  • Mental disorders – Alcohol impairs brain development in people below the age of 21. For infants and children in utero, the depressing effects of alcohol can cause prenatal brain damage.

Alcohol exposure can have numerous harmful consequences on babies in the womb. Pregnant women should abstain from alcohol while pregnant and only engage in moderate drinking, if any, after delivery.

Alcohol Use Disorder and Mental Health: Get Help

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

People who engage in heavy drinking often have co-occurring mental health problems like depression, trauma, anxiety and grief. The moment they drink alcohol, they can’t limit themselves to one or two drinks like most people. People with AUD often drink until they wake up later with memory lapses.

To avoid drinking alcohol, people with AUD need life-changing care. Across the US, alcohol treatment centers offer rehab and counseling programs for AUD and substance use disorder. Each patient gets supervision and care through each stage of recovery. If necessary, doctors administer detox medication to help patients overcome withdrawal symptoms.

If someone you know struggles with alcohol use disorder, get help today. Call the nearby alcohol treatment centers and inquire about their programs. One call could save the life of your friend, relative or partner.

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