Most Americans who only drink alcohol occasionally don’t really have to worry about the health risks associated with alcohol consumption. But if your drinking falls in a range outside of average amounts, there are some serious consequences to be aware that could affect not only your health, but your quality of life as well.
The following is a short comprehensive guide to the consequences of drinking. Some of these you may already know about, while others will come as a surprise. Many of these conditions can be treated effectively and even be reversed if you seek treatment. It’s important to be aware of the unexpected consequences of heavy drinking before it’s too late.
Drinking and Driving
We know all the risks of drinking while under the influence of alcohol, what many of us might not know is that it doesn’t take much alcohol in our systems to impair our ability to drive responsibly. Even with a very low blood alcohol concentration, a driver’s ability to simultaneously steer a car and react to traffic can be impaired. This means it only takes a couple of drinks to put you at risk of hurting yourself or others behind the wheel.
Alcohol and Medication Interactions
Another especially dangerous consequence of drinking comes when prescription medications are taken at the same time. There are around 150 prescription drugs that have negative interactions with alcohol. Many of those drugs are prescribed for common conditions such as chronic pain, colds, or allergies.
Drinking while taking these meds increases drowsiness, the risk of developing liver disease and other conditions, and puts the drinker at a much higher risk of harming themself or others. In extreme cases, drug and alcohol interactions can even cause death. It’s important to be aware of whether or not the medications you’re taking interact negatively with alcohol and to completely avoid drinking if that’s the case.
Alcohol’s Impact on Relationships
Drinking almost inevitable causes tension with the people close to you in your life. It seems the more you drink, the more strained interpersonal relations become. Even interactions with strangers can become difficult when you drink heavily.
Alcohol can have a negative effect on the quality of your performance at work, communication with co workers, spouses, and friends. Heavy alcohol consumption also has direct links to increased chances of committing or being the victim of violence and abuse.
Alcohol takes a toll on the liver of a heavy drinker, causing conditions such as hepatitis or cirrhosis. There are more than 2 million Americans with liver disease caused by heavy alcohol consumption. The damaging effects of alcohol on the liver can be reversed or at least stopped if a person no longer drinks. Otherwise the effects can include fever, jaundice, severe pain, and in severe instances, death.
Heavy drinking is also linked to serious heart conditions, especially if it is long term. High blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke have all been linked to continued consumption of alcohol.
Another risk of long term heavy drinking is developing certain types of cancer. Cancer of the throat and surrounding areas is common in heavy drinkers, as well as colon and rectal cancer. Women who drink heavily have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, especially if they have two or more drinks per day.
Inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar levels and aids in digestion, is another dangerous condition associated with long term heavy drinking. This inflammation is called pancreatitis and can cause severe pain and even be fatal.