Although alcohol is as ubiquitous as hamburgers and ice cream, it is actually a dangerous drug that kills about 3 million people each year. While 28% of deaths are from avoidable injuries, the remainder are caused by alcohol-induced cardiovascular disease, mental disorders, and cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), about ninety percent of the population is unaware that alcohol causes cancer.
Appearing in a video for Business Insider, Dr. Samuel Ball of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University explains a myriad of ways alcohol dependence can affect the body.
“[Alcohol] is one of the most destructive drugs to various parts of your body and different organ systems. From the top down, chronic alcohol dependence can have significant effects on cognitive functioning, memory, [and] motor coordination…You can have esophageal problems down into the stomach, pancreas, [and] liver.”
Alcohol can cause all kinds of unknown havoc to the body. For responsible drinkers, indulging is something to do on occasion, but there really is no fine line separating harmless fun from the slippery slope of alcoholism.
“Over time with addiction, the brain gets used to having that external stimulant there, and what ends up happening is some of those dopamine receptors get used to having that and they end up becoming less sensitive or less productive of dopamine.” – Dr. Samuel Ball
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends no more than 7 drinks per week and 3 drinks per sitting for females, and no more than 14 drinks per week and 4 drinks per sitting for males. However, everybody has a different body and even drinking within these limits can begin rewiring your brain for addiction.
Other risks of alcoholism include the impairment of a male’s sperm count as well as infertility in women, ulcers, loss of muscle, brain damage, and premature or accelerated dementia. Although on a more positive note, overcoming alcohol addiction can result in better sleep, less overeating (and therefore weight loss), clearer skin, and, of course, more money.
Recently, alcohol companies have begun selling hard seltzers as a “healthier” alternative to traditional beer. Regardless of their slightly lower calorie content, no alcoholic drink can truly be called healthy. Substance abuse researchers have begun to worry that this form of marketing is leading health-conscious millennials to addiction.
We all know that drinking can be dangerous, yet it has long been the most popular intoxicant in the western world. On the bright side, overcoming addiction can be the best move you ever make. Your body, brain, and wallet will thank you when you are finally able to quit.
If you think that you or someone you know might have a drinking problem, try talking to your doctor and educate yourself on what alcoholism looks like. The only way to win is to recognize the problem and then to take steps to quit.
About the Author
Phillip Schneider is a staff writer and assistant editor for Waking Times. If you would like to see more of his work, you can like his Facebook Page, or follow him on the free speech social network Minds.
This article (Watching This Substance Abuse Expert Explain What Alcohol Does Inside the Body Will Forever Change the Way You Think About Drinking) originally appeared at PhillipSchneider.com and may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.