22 Feb Binge Drinking and Your Health
Alcohol and Your Health
Each year, almost 80,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes. About 17 million Americans suffer from an alcohol use disorder – a term that covers both alcoholism and alcohol abuse. In 2017, 87.6 percent of people 18 years old and older admitted that they drank alcohol at some point.
Alcohol abuse has serious long-term consequences on almost every organ in the body. It damages the liver, heart, brain, digestive system, causes stroke, several types of cancer, diabetes, sleep disorders and mental disorders.
The amount of alcohol that damages health varies from person to person and depends on many factors, including the amount of time a person drinks. Anything above moderate drinking can cause health problems.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism considered one drink per day for women and two for men a moderate drinking. Any amount bigger than that increases risk of health consequences and the bigger the amount, the higher the risk is.
Alcohol initially improves the person’s mood, but a long period of regular heavy drinking depresses the nervous system. It undermines judgment, lower inhibitions and alters thoughts, emotions and behavior. Regular drinking affects muscle and speech coordination and binge drinking can cause a coma.
Long term regular alcohol abuse increases risk of many serious diseases. It may cause chronic fatigue, memory loss, weak eye muscles, liver diseases – particularly hepatitis and cirrhosis, gastrointestinal complications – gastritis and pancreas damage, inability to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals, low metabolism, hypertension, heart problems – cardiomyopathy (damaged heart muscle), heart failure, stroke, diabetes and consequent complications, disrupted menstruation, erectile dysfunction, fetal alcohol syndrome in children of mothers alcoholics, thinning bones, nervous system problems causing numbness in the limbs, dementia, cancers of esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, breast, prostate and pharynx, and mental illness.
Other aspects of life are also severely compromised with the abuse. Alcoholics are more prone to injuries from car crashes, falls, muggings, street violence etc. The National Institute of Health reports that more than half of traffic deaths in the US are alcohol-related.
Binge drinking is drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time. Binge drinking brings your alcohol blood level to 0.08 grams percent or more. This is the most common pattern of drinking in the US, particularly among the young. Its goal is to get very drunk very fast, and is fairly easy to achieve – five drinks for men and four for women in less than two hours are what we call binge drinking. While binge drinkers are seldom alcoholics, this kind of alcohol abuse has its own severe consequences:
1. Alcohol poisoning
2. Injuries from car crashes, drowning, falls and burns
3. Injuries from fights, sexual assault, firearms or domestic violence
4. Reckless sexual behavior leading to unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases
5. Liver disease
6. High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
7. Neurological damage
8. Sexual dysfunction
You can learn more about how to get help and treatment for alcohol abuse.