If people knew what alcohol did to their bodies, would they still drink?
Alcohol is a ubiquitous and 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, cancer, and more. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), ninety percent of the population is unaware that alcohol causes cancer.
In a video for Business Insider, Dr. Samuel Ball of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University explains how alcohol dependence can affect the body in a myriad of ways.
“It [alcohol] is one of the most destructive drugs to various parts of your body and different organ systems,” Ball explains. “From the top down, chronic alcohol dependence can have significant effects on cognitive functioning, memory, motor coordination…You can have esophageal problems down into the stomach, pancreas, [and] liver.”
Alcohol can cause all kinds of havoc in the body. For many of us, drinking is something to do on occasion, or even that’s expected of us by our peers, but there exists 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, everyone’s body is different, and even drinking within these limits can begin rewiring your brain for higher alcohol intake.
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.
We all know that drinking can be dangerous, yet it has long been the most popular intoxicant in the world. 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.
About the Author
Phillip Schneider is a student as well as a staff writer and assistant editor for Waking Times. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website, or follow him on the free speech social network Minds.
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