side from bodily harm, alcohol use has been linked to depression, anxiety, societal withdrawal, violent behavior, an increase in unprotected sex, and increased risk of vehicle accidents, suicide, injury, domestic violence, and even drowning.
As if that’s not enough, alcohol does unbelievable damage to the body, and not just to the brain and liver. Virtually every part of the body is affected negatively from excessive drinking.
Let’s discover the truth about what alcohol does to the human body.
FROM THE FIRST SIP
When alcohol is consumed, around 33% of it gets absorbed immediately into the blood, through the stomach lining. The remaining alcohol is absorbed more slowly into the blood, through the small intestine. Once in the bloodstream, alcohol diffuses into almost every biological tissue in the body, because cell membranes are highly permeable.
When one consumes more alcohol than his or her body can handle, that person’s blood alcohol level (BAL) increases. How fast a person’s BAL raises, and the effects it has, vary greatly depending on a number of things, including weight, age, gender, body composition, general health, and the presence of other drugs or medications.
Regardless, the presence of alcohol in the blood at all will have effects on the body. A higher BAL simply means greater risk. The recommended maximum intake of alcohol is 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. Consuming more than this is considered problematic drinking. Five or more drinks per day for men, (four for women), is considered binge drinking.
Right from the first sip, alcohol affects the body. Starting with the brain, what follows is an explanation of the effects alcohol has on various parts of the body. Hold on tight.
Note: Alcoholism is a disease characterized by: inability to control alcohol use, a need to consume increasingly larger amounts of alcohol, and/or a constant impulse to consume alcohol. If this sounds familiar, please seek professional treatment immediately. With the right help, alcoholism is a 100% curable disease.
The amount of damage alcohol causes to the brain is incomprehensible. Those little moments you don’t remember from the crazy night before – that’s temporary amnesia. Keep it up and you can develop Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), a memory-impairing, vision-and-speech-affecting, seizure-causing disorder. You won’t be able to form new memories. You’ll mumble involuntarily. Your eyes will twitch constantly.
And that’s not all. Drinking releases excess GABA and dopamine, two naturally occurring neurotransmitters. GABA is responsible for calming the brain down, and dopamine is responsible for pleasure, a part of the brain’s reward system. Too much of these neurotransmitters can lead to shortness of breath, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, night terrors, delusions, hallucinations, spasms, and increased levels of both aggression and depression.
Drinking also releases endorphins, which are similar to neurotransmitters except they carry natural pain-reducing chemicals instead of ‘messages’. Endorphins are normally released upon rewarding actions, such as exercise, sexual activity, eating, etc. Too much endorphin release can cause depression, lower sex drive, low testosterone, infertility, and extreme fatigue, among other complications.
If you use drink to try and improve your mood or mask your depression, you may be starting a vicious cycle…
Warning signs that alcohol is affecting your mood include:
Poor Sleep after drinking
Feeling tired because of a hangover
Experiencing anxiety in situations where you would normally feel comfortable.
FOUR WAYS TO HELP PREVENT ALCOHOL AFFECTING YOUR MOOD
Use exercise and relaxation to tackle stress instead of alcohol.
Learn breathing techniques to try when you feel anxious.
Talk to someone about your worries. Don’t try and mask them with alcohol.
Always be aware of why you’re drinking. Don’t assume it will make a bad feeling go away, it’s more likely to exaggerate it.