Mental health expert warns against deadly consequences of binge drinking


Theater producers expected new crowds as Americans looked for new ways to entertain themselves without alcohol. Although alcohol-related traffic fatalities for youth have declined, young people are still overrepresented in this area. In 1995 alone, more than 2,000 youth (ages 15 to 20) were killed in alcohol-related car crashes (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1997). One standard drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits. Individuals often hide their drinking or deny they have a problem. Combining alcohol with other depressant-type medications—whether over-the-counter preparations, prescription, or recreational drugs—can have serious effects on the respiratory and central nervous systems.

  • Certainly, previous attempts to outlaw the use of alcohol in American history had fared poorly.
  • Every day, about 37 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 39 minutes.
  • Anyone with an alcohol dependency disorder who desires to stop drinking should seek professional medical care or a treatment center specializing in safe alcohol detoxification.
  • Having a parent who is an alcoholic makes you four times more likely to be one yourself, per the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • Children of alcoholics are also more likely to grow up to develop the same habits.

Chemicals then reach the brain and begin disrupting normal functions. A delay of information affects one’s judgment while increasing reaction time, meaning that individuals who are “drunk” are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and suffer accidents and other negative consequences. While moderation is key, it’s a good idea for patients to review their alcohol use with their health care provider.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol on the Body?

If your body can’t manage and balance your blood sugar levels, you may experience greater complications and side effects related to diabetes. The pancreas helps regulate how your body uses insulin and responds to glucose. If your pancreas and liver don’t function properly due to pancreatitis or liver disease, you could experience low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.

It then travels to the brain, where it quickly produces its effects. Within minutes of consuming alcohol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream by blood vessels in the stomach lining and small intestine. It can also be difficult for the body to process, putting extra pressure on the liver, the digestive system, the cardiovascular system, and other functions.

Effects of Alcohol Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment

People who binge drink or drink heavily may notice more health effects sooner, but alcohol also poses some risks for people who drink in moderation. Other things, such as having low self-esteem or being impulsive, may raise the risk of alcohol use disorder. But when you drink alcohol, the liver works to remove it from your blood instead of managing your blood sugars or blood glucose. This is why one should strictly avoid alcohol when your blood glucose is already low. If you’re in need of help from alcohol abuse, contact a treatment provider. Alcohol is more closely linked to violent crime than any other illicit substance, including child and spousal abuse, rape, assault, and murder.

consequences of drinking

One study suggests that chronic consumption of large amounts of alcohol may disrupt how the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems communicate, potentially leading to hormone disruption with concerning consequences. Because hormones serve functions within so many bodily systems, a hormonal disruption could impact reproduction, mental and behavioral health, your immune function, and more. It’s important to note that moderate intake of alcohol is defined as up to two drinks per day for men, and one per day for women. Many of the hormonal abnormalities observed were seen in relation to alcohol consumption beyond the recommendation. While moderate consumption may be less likely to result in such disruptions, drinking less alcohol is better for your health than drinking more.

What Is Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can worsen existing conditions such as depression or induce new problems such as serious memory loss, depression or anxiety. Premature mortality is another large contributor to indirect costs of alcohol dependence.[232] In 2004, 3.8% of global deaths were attributable to alcohol (6.3% for men and 1.1% for women). Those under 60 years old have much higher prevalence in global deaths attributable to alcohol at 5.3%. The context of drinking plays an important role in the occurrence of alcohol-related harm, particularly as a result of alcohol intoxication.

  • These individuals tend to drink more, socialize with people who drink a lot, and develop a tolerance to alcohol (i.e., it takes more and more alcohol to feel or act intoxicated).
  • Alcohol can kill liver cells, and lead to scarring called cirrhosis.
  • This is why one should strictly avoid alcohol when your blood glucose is already low.
  • These treatments offer around-the-clock care administered by a team of professionals.
  • Some individuals drink to cope with or “medicate” emotional problems.
  • Depending on the severity of the addiction, inpatient or outpatient treatment centers may provide the best environment for recovery.

Many of the effects of drinking every day can be reversed through early intervention but become harder to treat with time. It’s critical to recognize alcohol abuse and treat alcoholism as early as possible to avoid irreversible damage to the brain and body. Alcohol and other mental health disorders share a bidirectional relationship. Alcohol can make other conditions emerge or become worse; having another condition can make alcohol use disorders worse as people drink to cope with their mental health issues.

Immediate Effects Of Alcohol Abuse

Some people who drink eventually develop a tolerance to alcohol. As a result, they eventually need to drink more to notice the same effects they once did. Over time, drinking can also damage your frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for executive functions, like abstract reasoning, decision making, social behavior, and performance. Alcohol use can begin consequences of drinking to take a toll on anyone’s physical and mental well-being over time. These effects may be more serious and more noticeable if you drink regularly and tend to have more than 1 or 2 drinks when you do. Past guidance around alcohol use generally suggests a daily drink poses little risk of negative health effects — and might even offer a few health benefits.

What does alcohol do to you socially?

Drinking alcohol clearly has important effect on social behaviors, such as increasing aggression, self-disclosure, sexual adventuresomeness, and so on. Research has shown that these effects can stem from beliefs we hold about alcohol effects.

Long-term heavy use of alcohol also may give you alcoholic fatty liver disease, a sign that your liver doesn’t work as well as it should. Beyond these physical and mental health risks, frequent alcohol misuse also is linked with personal problems, such as losing one’s driver’s license or having relationship troubles. For some people who drink, it takes quite a few drinks to “get a buzz” or feel relaxed, and they may be less likely to show signs of intoxication compared to others. So, just as this school year is getting underway, we have this advice from Dr. Christopher Townsend, Ph.D., Director of the Mental Health Clinic at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He says first, we need to understand that binge drinking refers to excessive drinking in a short period of time. For women, that would mean four or more drinks within two hours.