Alcohol is a drug and can be addictive with continued use. Studies show that children who drink alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics as adults. Alcohol remains the number one drug of choice for all age groups and is often combined with other drugs.
Alcohol is alcohol, whether it is a fancy Cosmopolitan or a tap beer. If you consume a “light” beer, does it make a difference? Not so much. Regular beers have a 5 percent alcohol content and some light beers have about a 4.2 percent alcohol content.
Standard Drink Sizes and Content
A “standard” drink contains 14 grams of alcohol.
If you order a glass of wine, it may not be a standard-sized drink; it may be larger.
- 12 ounces of regular beer has about 5 percent alcohol
- 8-9 ounces of malt liquor has about 7 percent alcohol
- 5 ounces of table wine contains about 12 percent alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or “hard” liquor contains about 40 percent alcohol
Who should not drink alcohol:
- Those in recovery from addiction
- Pregnant women
- Those taking medications with which alcohol could interfere
- Anyone planning to drive a vehicle after having alcohol
- Underage youth
The safe limits of drinking (for those other than people in recovery from alcoholism) are approximately:
- 1 drink daily for women
- 2 drinks daily for men
Some people boast that they have a high capacity for alcohol. This is not a good thing, because tolerance typically rises with prolonged use, and someone who abuses alcohol may be a “high functioning” alcoholic before the inevitable physical and social consequences occur.
Alcohol Affects Every Organ in the Body
Alcohol affects every organ in the body. The most commonly known related disease is cirrhosis of the liver, but there are many adverse medical effects of alcohol misuse and addiction, all of which require comprehensive medical care.
Common adverse effects on the body include:
- Heart problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Certain cancers are directly related, such as esophageal, cancers of the mouth and throat, and breast cancer.
- Liver cancer
- High blood pressure
Alcohol and Mental Health
Many mental and emotional disorders can occur because of, or be exacerbated by, alcohol use. People often use alcohol to self-medicate chronic pain, stress, and other emotional problems and, over long-time misuse, more alcohol is needed for the same effects. Because the symptoms of alcohol use disorders and mental health disorders often overlap, diagnosis can be complicated. It is important to receive care for both conditions simultaneously in order to produce sustained recovery.
Common mental health conditions that are complicated by alcohol use:
- Cognition problems
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
- Uncontrolled anger
Alcohol by Age and Gender
That said, different body types, genders, and ages process alcohol differently. For instance, older people, even those in good health, cannot physically process alcohol the same way younger bodies do. We also know that binge drinking is epidemic on college campuses, and may result in violence such as fighting, date rape, and failure at school. When search placement for treatment, it is important to consider the variety of ways alcohol affects the individual.
Women process alcohol differently than men:
- Women have less body water content, and become inebriated with less alcohol, with more severe effects, than men.
- Women get addicted faster to alcohol and have a higher percentage of physical and medical problems with alcohol use.
Men suffer differently than women:
- Both genders are undertreated for alcoholism, even though a higher percentage of men are alcoholics.
- Men are nearly two times more likely to binge drink than women
- Among drivers in fatal traffic crashes, men nearly twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated
- Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide.
Alcohol and aging:
- Alcohol can worsen health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, and memory loss
- Because alcohol can cause some older people to be forgetful or confused, symptoms of alcoholism may be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Too much alcohol can lead to balance problems which can result in hip fractures and other injuries
When You Can’t Stop
Hangovers can be unpleasant, but this is not necessarily a learning experience for drinkers because alcohol dependency is a chronic disease. Treatment and support are needed when alcohol misuse turns into an addiction.
Contact Origins Today
Origins Behavioral HealthCare is dedicated to helping our patients achieve sustainable and complete recovery. We know that sobriety is possible for everyone, especially through evidence-based interventions that restore mental, physical, and spiritual health. Our fully integrated services provide cutting-edge care that enacts real, lasting change for our patients.
Today is the day you break the cycle of addiction for good – start your journey to freedom and fulfillment by calling Origins Behavioral HealthCare at 561-841-1296.