Alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances of all time. It is often consumed in social settings, causing many to feel pressured to drink. Despite the popularity of this substance, alcohol can be quite damaging. There are physical, emotional, and social effects of using alcohol — all of which come with their own set of consequences.
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol is made from fermented grains and sugars. Alcohol can be found in beer, wine, hard liquor, liqueurs, and malt beverages. The amount of alcohol in a given drink varies depending on what type of alcoholic beverage you choose.
A standard drink contains approximately 12 grams of pure ethanol (alcohol). This means that if you were to consume 1/2 ounce of whiskey or vodka, it would contain about 80% alcohol. If you were to consume 2 ounces of wine, it would contain between 8% and 18%. Beer has around 5% to 9% alcohol.
Effects of Alcohol Abuse
There are many different types of alcohol abuse. Some people may just use alcohol as an excuse to get drunk and party. Others may abuse alcohol because they feel depressed or anxious. There are also those who abuse alcohol for medical reasons. They may need to take certain medications while drinking. Or they may want to avoid taking their medication due to side effects.
There are also those who abuse drugs and alcohol together. These people may not be able to function without both substances.
The following are some of the most serious physical, social, and emotional effects of alcohol abuse:
- Loss of control over your actions. Your body begins to crave alcohol when you start abusing it. You will begin to act out of character and do things you normally wouldn’t do.
- Memory loss. Your memory will become impaired after consuming large amounts of alcohol. You won’t remember anything that happened before you started drinking.
- Increased risk of accidents. After drinking heavily, you’re less likely to drive safely. You could cause yourself or someone else injury.
- Risky sexual behavior. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to risky sex.
- Injury. Alcohol can cause injuries such as broken bones, head trauma, internal bleeding, and organ damage.
- Health problems. Alcohol affects your liver and pancreas. Over time, these organs will become damaged.
- Liver disease. Heavy drinking leads to cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis causes scarring of the liver and eventually death.
- Heart attack. Heavy drinking increases the risk of heart attacks.
- Stroke. Alcohol consumption can cause a stroke.
- Cancer. Alcoholics are at an increased risk of developing cancer.
- Depression. Alcoholics tend to experience depression.
- Problems sleeping. Alcohol reduces sleep quality.
- Weight gain. Excessive alcohol consumption tends to make you put on weight.
- High blood pressure. Drinking alcohol regularly can raise your blood pressure.
- Diabetes. Heavy drinking can lead to diabetes.
- Kidney failure. Chronic heavy drinking can lead to kidney failure.
- Mental health issues. Alcoholics are more prone to mental illness than others.
Additionally, people who abuse alcohol are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. For example, they might:
- Drink and drive
- Take drugs
- Have unprotected sex
- Get into fights
- Be violent toward themselves or others
- Fail to pay bills
- Spend money recklessly
The Physical Effects of Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol (C2H5OH), which is a depressant drug. It affects the central nervous system and slows down nerve impulses. This causes the body to relax. As a result, it lowers blood pressure, slows breathing, lowers heart rate, and decreases muscle coordination. These changes lead to drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, slurred speech, memory problems, fatigue, confusion, and impaired judgment.
Social and Emotional Effects of Alcohol Use
There are many emotional effects associated with alcoholism. These include depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, loneliness, hopelessness, fear, regret, and feelings of being trapped. Individuals may feel helpless because they cannot quit drinking. Additionally, they may feel guilty about their behaviors. Some people feel ashamed of their drinking habits. Others feel lonely and isolated because they don’t see any way out of their situation.
There are also many social effects associated with alcoholism. These include problems at home, school, work, and in relationships.
If someone has alcoholism, then chances are good that their home life is going to be affected. There could be arguments between the alcoholic and spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. If the alcoholic drinks too much, then they may become abusive toward these people.
Students who have alcoholism are more likely to get poor grades. They may skip class, miss assignments, and fall behind in their studies. They may even drop out of school.
Employers sometimes fire employees who have been abusing alcohol. Employees who have alcoholism may show up late for work, leave early, take excessive breaks, make mistakes, and generally act unprofessionally.
Alcoholics tend to isolate themselves from their families and friends. They may neglect their responsibilities at home and at work and spend the majority of their time alone.
Finding Help for the Social and Emotional Effects of Alcohol
There are many different types of treatment available for those suffering from alcohol addiction. The type of treatment depends on what kind of problem the patient has. For example, if someone is having trouble controlling their drinking, then they may need to attend AA meetings and/or counseling sessions. If someone is not able to control their drinking, then they most likely need to undergo detoxification before starting any form of therapy.
Alcohol Rehab in Denver, Colorado
The first step towards recovery from alcoholism is admitting that you have a problem. This is where treatment comes into play. There are different types of treatments available in Denver, CO depending on the severity of your addiction. At Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado, we offer several outpatient programs as well as a variety of evidence-based therapies and holistic treatment options. Our treatment programs are customized to meet your specific needs and help you reach your recovery goals. To get started, give us a call or use our contact form today.