It’s no secret that alcohol consumption can adversely affect your health. Still, many people drink alcohol without really thinking about how it could harm them.
Since it’s legal and widely available, it must be safe, right?
Not exactly. Alcohol is actually a dangerous drug.
Alcohol can cause damage to our health, wallets, relationships, career, and society as a whole.
Misuse of alcohol can not only harm those that consume it but others around them as well, including strangers.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and in honor of that, we wanted to share some information about how alcohol can affect your life, even if you aren’t the one drinking.
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Harmful Effects of Alcohol
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), excessive drinking increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, liver cirrhosis, and certain cancers.
And a recent study concludes any drinking alcohol is detrimental to brain health.
Alcohol consumption also contributes to the risk of:
- poor sleep
- violence (including domestic abuse)
- harmful interactions with medications
- unsafe sexual behaviors
- auto-related accidents
In the United States, alcohol is responsible for an estimated 95,000 preventable deaths annually. More than 10,000 of these deaths result from alcohol-impaired driving.
Even if you’re not the one consuming alcohol, it can still negatively impact your life.
Dependent drinkers often put their loved ones through a lot of stress and heartache.
They may also struggle with work or school, financial instability, and legal problems.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, these include:
– drinking more than intended or for more extended periods than intended
– unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop drinking
– needing alcohol to relax or feel good
– physical withdrawal symptoms (such as nausea, sweating, shakiness) when not drinking
– spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking
– neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school because of alcohol use
– continuing to drink even though it’s causing problems in relationships
Is there an amount of alcohol that’s considered safe?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
Some people can drink moderately without adverse effects, while others cannot consume even a few drops without feeling the consequences.
In general, the amount considered safe is about one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Going overboard is considered consuming more than three drinks in a single day or 7 in a week for women, and four drinks in a day or 14 drinks in a week for men.
Note: One drink equals 12 ounces of regular beer, five ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Still, it’s important to remember that these are just general guidelines.
Everyone processes alcohol differently, so listening to your own body and drinking accordingly is essential.
How can I tell if I’m becoming too dependent on alcohol?
If you’re concerned about your alcohol use, ask yourself the following questions to help determine if you have a problem:
-Are you frequently consuming alcohol over recommended ‘safe’ amounts?
-Do you regularly drink more than you planned to?
-Do you need a drink to relax or feel less anxious?
-Does drinking interfere with your sleep, work, school, or home life?
-Are you drinking or recovering from drinking more and more?
If you’re not sure how much is too much for you, start by talking to your doctor or another health professional.
It’s crucial to be honest about how alcohol affects you and those important to you.
Ready to change your relationship with alcohol? Check out these tips and resources to help you break the cycle.