Moderate alcohol drinking can be beneficial to one’s health. It can aid in digestion and promote blood circulation. However, heavy drinking can make terrible changes in one’s life. Three to four shots in a single session can pose evident side effects, how much more if you do it on a daily basis.
Alcohol tolerance happens quickly to any person and it alters behavior and mood. It can induce depression and anxiety which can affect good decision making. Lastly, a lot of lives, relationships, and families have been destroyed because of alcoholism.
What are the Health Effects of Alcohol Abuse?
Most people drink because they think it can relieve stress and give them a slight euphoric feeling. In the early stages, alcohol really calms the senses and nerves of a person. However, long sessions of heavy drinking distort one’s behavior and mood stability.
Here are some of the short-term effects of alcohol abuse:
- Inability to focus
- Decreased body coordination
- Slurred speech
- Dulled reflexes
- Sudden mood changes
- Elevated blood pressure
- Short breaths
Excessive alcohol drinking can dampen one’s ability to regulate emotion, rational thinking and maintain normal behavior. It magnifies the negative behaviors such as depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, and aggression.
Here are examples of how alcohol abuse has affected the behavior, mood and mental capacity of the people in the United States.
Aggression or Physical Assault
- In 2015, 696,000 students (ages 18-24) experienced physical assault by other drunk students
- In 2015, 1,825 college students (ages 18-24) died from physical injuries under the influence of alcohol
- Men who drink a lot are more prone to aggression and violence
- Around 27 percent of reported physical assaults are done by alcoholic people
- 24% of 869 freshmen college students in the United States showed signs of depression due to alcohol drinking
- Nearly 20 percent of the population with anxiety in the United States have an alcohol abuse disorder
- In 2017, 220 in 1,147 vehicle accidents happened due to drunk driving
- Around 30 people in the United States die each day due to drunk driving
- Under influence of alcohol, men are more prone to suicidal behavior than women
- 30% of the suicide deaths in the United States have done alcohol abuse
- Alcoholics are 75 times more prone to suicidal attempts
- Nearly 15 percent of people with alcoholism commit suicide
Sexual Assault and Unprotected Sex
- In 2015, 97,000 students (ages 18-24) experienced alcohol-related sexual assault
- Women who binge drinks are more prone to unprotected sex
- 1 in 20 college female students experienced sexual assault
Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder happens when one has an uncontrollable craving for drinking despite its detrimental effects. In 2015, around 88,000 individuals in the United States have been reported to die from alcohol-related incidents and diseases. This makes alcohol the third major factor for the mortality rate in the country.
In order to save a person from this addiction, one has to know its symptoms and apply preventive measures. Here are the common symptoms of alcoholism.
Common Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction:
- The increased volume of alcohol consumption
- No “hangover” symptoms due to tolerance
- Increased frequency of drinking
- Frequent going to drinking places
- Denial of having the addiction
- Alcohol-induced depression and anxiety
- Storing alcohol in hidden places
- Easily irritated and resorts to physical violence
A person gains alcohol tolerance and dependence when one increases the frequency and volume of alcohol intake. The moment one decides to change and stop drinking, there will be certain unavoidable withdrawal symptoms to occur.
Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Uncontrolled shaking of hands
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive sweating
Alcohol-related medical conditions
Alcohol is a known carcinogen in the medical world. One has to minimize drinking or undergo a treatment process if diagnosed with alcoholism in order to prevent alcohol-induced diseases.
Here are some of the common alcohol-induced diseases:
- Mouth, throat, and esophagus cancer
- Colon and Rectal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Alcohol-induced stroke
- Enlargement of the heart
- Cardiomyopathy or weakening of the heart muscles
- Brain damage and paralysis
Alcohol Poisoning and Death
Alcohol poisoning happens when a person drinks a lethal amount of alcohol in a single session. Likewise, this can also happen when one accidentally drinks other kinds of alcohol such as methanol which is toxic to the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning:
- Slower and irregular breathing
- Pale skin
- Decreased body temperature
In the United States, alcohol poisoning is rampant due to people’s heavy drinking habits.
Alcohol Poisoning Statistics in the United States:
- Around six individuals die each day due to alcohol poisoning
- Estimated 2,200 people die annually from alcohol poisoning
- In 2015, death from alcohol poisoning occurs mostly for middle-aged people
o Ages 35-44: 21 percent
o Ages 45-54: 34 percent
o Ages 55-64: 21 percent
- Most death from alcohol poisoning happens among men (76%)
Low Quality of Life
One of the major effects of alcoholism is a low quality of life. This happens because alcohol has the capacity to disturb a person’s ability to focus which leads to loss of responsibility and dignity. Most alcoholics have resorted to such a habit as a coping mechanism due to several problems such as work stress, finances, relationships, and trauma. Early onset of alcohol can give relieving and euphoric effect but a huge fraction of it induces detrimental health effects.
Further, people with alcohol use disorder often resort to doing criminal things such as robbery, homicide, sexual harassment, physical assault, and child abuse.
What are the Social Effects of Alcohol Abuse?
Excessive alcohol drinking makes a person lethargic and highly irritable. It makes them more prone to verbal and physical aggressions which destroys their ability to socialize and communicate with their loved ones.
- Approximately 28 million children have alcoholic parents
- Divorce rate caused by only one spouse having alcohol use disorder accounts for 50 percent
- Divorce rate increases by twenty percent for each liter increment of alcoholic drink
- From 2012 to 2014, 1 in 9 teenagers ages 16-18 dropped from grade 12th level
- 1 in 4 college students with alcohol use disorder experienced lower academic ratings
- 21.6% of 14,000 college students have fallen behind their class while 29.5% missed their classes because of alcohol abuse
- 33.7 to 41.1 percent of grade 12 dropouts are due to alcoholism
- Around 1 in 6 unemployed individuals have problems with alcoholism and substance abuse
- 17% of the unemployed population had alcohol and substance abuse last year while 9% of full-time workers are currently doing it
- An estimated 50 percent of all domestic violence in the United States are due to alcohol use disorder
- In a survey of more than 2,000 couples, there’s a 15 times chance of intimate partner violence due to the influence of alcohol
- In 2015, 1.4 million women are victims of domestic violence due to alcohol and substance abuse
What are the Economic Effects of Alcohol Abuse?
Relevant to health effects, alcoholism is also hurting the economy of the United States. Alcoholism hurts the economy specifically in decreasing the population of productive workers. A decline in the workforce entails a decrease in productivity and income loss for the country. Likewise, medical expenses in rehabilitating those alcoholics increases disbursements in the national budget.
- 88,000 people die annually due to alcoholism
- In 2010, an estimated $249 billion accounts for the cost of extensive alcohol drinking
o Wherein 77% of the cost is accounted for binge drinking
- One alcoholic drink entails $2.05 cost for the government
- Estimated alcohol cost for some states during:
o Columbia - $3.5 billion
o North Dakota - $488 million
o California - $35 billion
- 72% of the total cost is attributed to a decline in workforce productivity
- 11% of the total is thrown to health care expenditures
- 10% of the total is thrown to law enforcement and judiciary activities
- 5% of the total is due to alcohol-related vehicle accidents
In order to help the government and decrease the negative economic impact of alcohol, the following measures can be done.
- Increasing the prices of alcoholic drinks to discourage alcoholism
- Regulating the number of outlets where alcoholic drinks are sold
- Increasing the liability of alcohol retailers for damages incurred by alcoholics