Alcohol is a big part of our culture, whether you are taking a glass of wine with your dinner, kicking back with your best friends, a football game and a beer, or unwinding with a finger of whiskey after a long day.
However, there are many short-term and long-term effects of alcohol consumption, which depend on the amount of alcohol which you drink. That is why below we are going to explore the health risks of drinking alcohol, so that you can begin following a healthier lifestyle today.
So read on for an informative and comprehensive article ahead.
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol is a drug and depressant, which works to slow down vital body functions and reduce a drinker’s ability to think and act rationally. This depressant therefore affects the body and mind of whoever is consuming it, however its effect is based on the amount of alcohol that has been consumed.
As mentioned earlier, most people to choose to drink alcohol for its stimulant effect which causes them to loosen up. However once a person consumes more than their body can handle, the depressant effect of alcohol begins to kick in. This is what we are going to look at in greater detail below.
While fermented drinks like wine and beer will contain between 2% and 20% alcohol, distilled drinks or liquor will contain in excess of 40% alcohol content. The content of alcohol in your drink will affect the rate at which you begin to experience short-term side effects, and that is why we will list the alcohol content of the most common drinks found in the market.
- Beer is 2% to 6% alcohol
- Cider is 4% to 8% alcohol
- Wine is 8% to 20% alcohol
- Tequila is 40% alcohol
- Rum is in excess of 40% alcohol
- Brandy is in excess of 40% alcohol
- Gin is 40% to 47% alcohol
- Whiskey is 40% to 50% alcohol
- Vodka is 40% to 50% alcohol
- Liqueurs are 15% to 60% alcohol
How Does Alcohol Affect The Body?
You might be asking yourself why and how a depressant affects our body and mind, and that is why below we will have a quick biology lesson on how alcohol affects our body.
Once you consume alcohol, it will be absorbed into your bloodstream by means of the small blood vessels found in the walls of your stomachs and small intestine. While approximately 20% of alcohol consumed will be absorbed into the stomach, the remaining 80% will be absorbed into the small intestine.
The alcohol that is absorbed into the stomach will travel to the brain within minutes of your consumption, and this is when the effects will start- such as the slow action of nerve cells.
Alcohol is also transported to your liver via the bloodstream, where it is metabolized (converted into a nontoxic substance) and eliminated from the blood. However, the liver can only perform this process for a given duration, meaning that any excess alcohol will be left to circulate through your body and cause other side effects.
In turn, the effect of alcohol consumption is directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed.
Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol
Like many drugs out there, alcohol has side effects in the short-term as well as in the long-term.
Short-term effects of alcohol are dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed, with individuals who drink moderately experiencing few to none of the effects I will list below. Short-term effects of alcohol will also depend on the physical condition of the drinker, their ability to hold their liquor, and the rate at which they consumed the alcohol.
Alternatively, heavy drinkers will experience the following unpleasant short-term alcohol consumption effects:
– Drowsiness, headaches, slurred speech, upset stomach, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, impaired judgment, distorted vision, distorted hearing, decreased perception, reduced coordination, blackouts/ memory loss, hangovers, bad sleep and anemia.
When an alcohol overdose occurs, the drinker will experience depressant effects which are even more severe than the ones listed above. These effects include the following:
– Inability to feel pain, toxicity which leads to the drinker vomiting the poison, unconsciousness, coma, and in the worst case scenario death as a result of severe toxic overdose.
When the alcohol in your blood surpasses a certain level, your breathing system will dramatically slow down and this prevents oxygen from going to your brain. This is what leads to a coma and to death.
Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol
Binge drinking is the consumption of large quantities of alcohol (5+ drinks in one session), and consistent binge drinking will have negative health impacts in the long run. Below are the long-term effects of excessive alcohol consumption:
– Unintentional injuries (car crashes, drowning, falls and burns), intentional injuries (domestic violence, sexual assault, firearm injuries), increased weight, withering of the testes, loss of body hair, skin disorders, enlargement of breast size, loss of productivity, increased work injuries, increased family problems, broken relationships, alcohol poisoning, heart diseases, reduced testosterone levels, adverse sperm production, impotence, gout, type 2 diabetes, pancreatic inflammation, high blood pressure, strokes, liver disease, heart disease, nerve damage, weakened immune system, ulcers, permanent brain damage, gastritis, Vitamin B1 deficiency, malnutrition, and cancer.
Alcohol dependency or alcoholism as it is more popularly known is a life threatening disease found in heavy drinkers. Studies have shown that teenagers who begin drinking before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to become dependent on alcohol when compared to adults who begin drinking when they are 21.
Alcohol dependency will present itself in the following steps:
– Cravings or compulsion, loss of control, physical dependence, and tolerance.
Withdrawal symptoms found in alcohol dependants include nausea, sweating, anxiety, and shakiness, as well as convulsions, hallucinations, agitation, and delirium tremens in those who are in a more dire position.
As you can see, when taken in moderation alcohol is not harmful to your short-term or long-term health. However, when taken in excess and for long periods of time, alcohol will lead to chronic illnesses and to a deteriorating health status. It is therefore important to regulate the amount of alcohol you consume, and if you believe you or a friends are dependent on alcohol please visit a medical professional as soon as possible.
Your life depends on it!