Alcohol usage is pervasive across American culture. In fact, among potentially-addictive substances, alcohol is by far the most commonly used. For the majority of users, alcohol addiction never becomes an issue. But as an addictive substance, no amount of alcohol use is without risk. The dangers of alcohol abuse are wide-ranging and concern far more than the chance to develop an alcohol addiction. Many mental and physical health issues can also stem from excessive drinking or alcohol abuse.
Defining Alcohol Abuse
Many people wonder what exactly defines alcohol abuse with drinking behavior so common. Is there an amount of drinking that tips over from moderation to excess? It can vary slightly from person to person as biology plays a role in how the body processes alcohol. Nonetheless, the CDC has established guidelines for what constitutes excessive drinking, which is split into two categories: binge drinking and heavy drinking.
Binge drinking is when men have five or more drinks in a short period. For women, it is four or more drinks. Heavy drinking takes a wider view of things. Heavy drinking among men is defined as 15 or more drinks within a week, and for women, it is eight or more drinks in a single week. Many people who engage in binge drinking or heavy drinking do not suffer from alcoholism or an alcohol abuse disorder. However, the dangers of alcohol abuse are no less real for them.
In addition, the CDC has laid out certain groups of people among whom even taking even one drink is considered excessive. These include pregnant women, people under 21 years of age, people taking certain prescriptions that interact negatively with alcohol, and those in recovery from alcoholism.
Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse is associated with many dangers, both physical and mental. These can largely be divided between short-term and long-term risks.
Short-Term Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Excessive drinking is risky for a variety of reasons. First, people who consume a dangerous amount of alcohol are more likely to injure themselves or others in car accidents, falls, drownings, or burns. Violence is another concern related to alcohol abuse—people who abuse alcohol display higher rates of domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide, and homicide.
Risky sexual behavior is also a danger of alcohol abuse. Engaging in unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners is more common in people who abuse alcohol. That could result in an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Lastly, pregnant women face perhaps the biggest danger of alcohol abuse. Excess amounts of drinking, let alone binge or heavy drinking, can result in stillbirth, miscarriage, or fetal alcohol syndrome.
Long-Term Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Chronic disease, mental health disorders, and other ailments are possible from long-term alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction. A few of the biggest long-term dangers of alcohol abuse are:
- Heart disease
- Memory problems
- Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression
Alcohol abuse also leaves people more liable to contract liver disease, suffer from high blood pressure, or experience digestive problems. The longer someone uses alcohol and the more they drink, the higher the possibility that their use will result in alcohol addiction. Even if things do not progress to that point, the best way to avoid the dangers of alcohol abuse is to pursue alcohol abuse treatment.
Discover Alcohol Abuse Treatment
Alcohol abuse treatment offers a way out of the constant danger and risk associated with excessive drinking. Exceptional treatment like that offered by Olympic Behavioral Health is grounded in evidence-based methodology. Patients engage in motivational interviewing, 12-step programs, trauma therapy, and other therapeutic interventions.
Alcohol does not deserve control over your life. Take back your future today by contacting 844.983.3916.