Over 7% of the population in the US have a drinking problem. That is over 13 million people suffering. Also, an estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. 1

Alcohol Addiction 

Alcohol is widely consumed in America and all over the world, and it is highly abused by many. Alcohol addiction and abuse can come in many forms. There is help for those that are in need of changing their life and their habits. 

What is Alcohol

Alcohol is a legal controlled substance. The ingredient ethyl alcohol, which is created during the fermentation process, is what causes alcohol’s intoxicating effects. Variations include​ beer, wine, and hard liquors like rum, gin, vodka and whiskey.

How does alcohol affect your body and brain?

Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system.​2 This can lead to​ feelings such as relaxation, self confidence, lowered inhibitions, anger and joyfulness. It can also cause physical changes like loss of memory, lack of coordination, and a lack of good decision making.​3

Signs someone could be misusing:

Research has shown that continued use of substances, including alcohol, can make a person more at-risk for developing addiction.​4 Therefore, children and teenagers, drinking can be particularly dangerous.​5

When an adult is using alcohol is excess, they might feel they ​have​ to drink, rather than want to drink. They notice they are drinking a lot more than their peers in social situations, or they notice themselves drinking excessively when alone. People in recovery often say that they would very frequently black out from alcohol use and even be unable to remember what they may have said or did during the time that they were drunk. Everyone’s situation can be different, but when alcohol is interferes with someone's daily life, it's considered misuse.​7

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), excessive drinking is harmful. The CDC defines excessive drinking as either binge drinking (4–5+ drinks during a single occasion) or heavy drinking (8–15+ drinks per week), and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21.​6   

Many medical professionals believe that any alcohol consumption can be harmful to your health. Because alcohol is a carcinogen, which can increase the risk of many cancers, including the mouth, throat, colon, liver, esophagus.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that for women, having more than 7 alcoholic drinks in a week, puts them at higher risk for liver disease, stroke, and heart disease, and liver disease. Women who have even one drink a day have a 10%  higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not drink The recommended maximum level for men is twice that amount.

According to 2009 research from the University of Oxford, women who have just one drink a day have a 10 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not drink. The risk rises another 10 percent for every drink they have a day. ​7

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems.

Short-Term Health Risks

Injuries

  • Car crashes 

  • Falls

  • Drownings

  • Burns

Violence

  • Homicide

  • Suicide

  • Sexual assault

  • Intimate partner violence

Reproductive health

  • Risky sexual behaviors

  • Unintended pregnancy

  • Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV

  • Miscarriage

  • Stillbirth

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)

  • long-Term Health Risks

Chronic diseases

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Liver disease

  • Digestive problems

 

Cancers

  • Breast

  • Mouth and throat

  • Liver

  • Colon

Learning and memory problems

  • Dementia

  • Poor school performance

Mental health

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

Social problems

  • Lost productivity

  • Family problems

  • Unemployment

Alcohol dependence

References

  1. CDC. ​Alcohol, Frequently Asked Questions​. October 2016.

  2. Mukherjee S. “​Alcoholism and its effect on the central nervous system​.” Current Neurovascular Research, August 2013.

  3. NIDA for Teens. ​Alcohol..

  4. “Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.” ​National Institute on Drug Abuse​, July 2014.

  5. Tapert SF, Caldwell L, Burke C. “​Alcohol and the Adolescent Brain.”​ NIH.

  6. CDC. Fact Sheets – ​Alcohol Use and Your Health​. October 2016.

  7. CDC. ​Alcohol, Frequently Asked Questions​. October 2016.

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