The negative effects of alcohol consumption are abundant and varied. Excessive drinking can lead to serious health conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver and fetal alcohol syndrome. Sleep disturbances and poor performance at school or work can also result from the consumption of alcohol. In addition to the adverse impact that alcohol misuse can have on a person’s health, there is a host of other reasons to refrain from alcohol consumption. Not only is drinking costly, but it can negatively impact a person’s appearance and desirability. Moreover, people who drink are more likely than nondrinkers to use and abuse other drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, and heroin. Below are 10 of the many reasons why you should stay away from alcohol.
- Serious liver damage can result from alcohol misuse.Alcohol can severely damage or destroy liver cells. Two common liver disorders that result from alcohol misuse are hepatitis and cirrhosis. According to the American Liver Foundation, up to 35% of heavy drinkers can develop alcohol hepatitis and 10% to 20% of heavy drinkers can develop cirrhosis of the liver. Both conditions are serious, but cirrhosis can be particularly devastating because the damage cannot be reversed and liver failure can result. Individuals with cirrhosis should make every effort to stop further damage by ceasing their consumption of alcohol.
- Fetal alcohol syndrome can result from drinking alcohol.Women who consume high levels of alcohol during pregnancy are at an increased risk to deliver a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome. Commonly known as FAS, fetal alcohol syndrome can result when alcohol crosses the placental barrier and negatively impacts the fetus. Common symptoms include low birth weight, cognitive deficiencies, and damage to the central nervous system. Fetal alcohol exposure is also linked to the increased incidence of mental retardation and other problems in infants of mothers who drank during pregnancy.
- Impaired work performance can result from alcohol use.The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) highlights the three major ways that alcohol can impact a person’s work performance. Not only can a high blood alcohol level jeopardize efficiency and safety, but those who misuse alcohol tend to have higher rates of absenteeism than people who do not. Moreover, individuals who abuse alcohol are more likely to suffer from social and psychological problems than those who do not misuse alcohol. Notably, the IAS notes that employees who misuse alcohol are more likely to engage in frequent job changes compared to nondrinkers.
- Alcohol consumption can cause sleep disturbances.Alcohol use can cause sleep disturbances and can exacerbate pre-existing sleep problems. While very small amounts of alcohol can actually induce sleep, higher levels of consumption can lead to disruptions in sleep maintenance, especially later in the sleep cycle. Unfortunately, because many people mistakenly misuse alcohol in an effort to self-induce sleep, the vicious cycle of daytime fatigue and nighttime sleep impairments are often perpetuated.
- Drinkers can experience impaired judgment and poor decision making.Consumption of alcohol can impair a person’s perception and ability to think or process information. People who abuse alcohol are also more likely to engage in risky or violent behaviors. Even small amounts of alcohol are shown to reduce inhibitions. Research conducted by Dr. Richard Olsen highlights a reduction in inhibitions in people with blood alcohol levels of just .01%.
- Alcohol is expensive.Alcoholic beverages are costly, particularly if they are purchased at a restaurant or club. Individuals who consume multiple drinks on a daily basis could spend thousands of dollars a year on alcohol. According to findings by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics in 2012, the average American spends 1% of their income on alcohol. The percentage of alcohol purchased in restaurants and bars has increased over the years, which means that people are spending an increasing amount of money on alcohol. In addition to the cost of the beverages themselves, there are hidden costs that result from impaired productivity and healthcare expenses that result from alcohol consumption. alcohol addiction treatment requires time and resources, and can be costly for individuals who do not have health insurance.
- Drinking alcohol can lead to weight gain.The average 12 ounce can of beer contains 150 calories, while a typical glass of wine contains 120 calories. A tiny shot of one and a half ounces of liquor contains a whopping 100 calories. For individuals who consume multiple alcoholic beverages on a regular basis, these calories can add up quickly. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the average American male consumes 150 calories a day from alcoholic beverages. Individuals who consume just one alcoholic beverage a day are adding an additional 54,750 calories or over 15 pounds of fat per year to their waistlines.
- Alcohol can negatively impact the appearance of the skin.Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, which can cause skin to appear dull and lifeless. Fine lines and wrinkles are more likely to surface, and their appearance will be exacerbated by continued alcohol use. Additionally, alcohol can trigger skin redness and other symptoms in individuals who suffer from rosacea. Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by redness and pimples on a person’s face. Approximately 14 million Americans suffer from rosacea, and many suffer embarrassment as a result of the symptoms. Certain alcoholic beverages can trigger symptoms more than others. For instance, 76% of individuals responding to a survey by the National Rosacea Society indicated that red wine triggered rosacea flare-ups. This percentage is significantly higher than the percentage of hard alcohol drinkers who reported flare-ups.
- Drinking alcohol can cause body odor.The liver works overtime to process alcohol that is consumed by the human body. However, approximately 10% to 20% of alcohol consumed is not processed by the liver. This 10% to 20% is excreted in the urine, sweat, and breath of the drinker. The result is often a stale or sour smell that is noticeable to people nearby. Many people find the smell of excreted alcohol to be offensive, which can lead people to distance themselves from those who drink.
- Alcohol consumption can lead to use of other drugs.There is an increased likelihood of drug use and drug dependence among individuals who regularly consume alcohol. Studies by G.L. Staines and others show that approximately two thirds of alcoholics reported using other drugs within a 90 day period prior to the study. The drugs that are commonly used in conjunction with alcohol include cocaine, cannabis, and heroin.
In addition to the dangers posed by the independent use of alcohol and these other drugs, there exists the danger for cross-tolerance and fatal drug interactions.