Is Drinking Alcohol Good or Bad?
People suffer from misinformation or lack of information. Some of us have grown with families where it was and it is normal to grab a glass of beer after dinner. We would watch our parents or relatives drink alcohol in our presence. It made us believe that maybe alcohol is for adults and that it is not harmful. As we grew, we found ourselves experimenting and that is how we ended up in alcoholism.
Additionally, many alcoholics don’t know the damage alcohol can do to their bodies and lives in general. Alcohol destroys almost every organ of your body. It damages the liver, causes high blood pressure, impacts on kidneys, and many others. Due to the behaviors of alcoholism such as violence, irritability, lies, irresponsibility etc., one ends up losing relationships at work and in the family.
Booze, sauce, brewskis, hard stuff, juice, and hooch are some of the slang names of alcohol. It is available in drinks such as beer, wines, liquors/spirits, and whiskey. Even some coffee drinks have some content of alcohol, thus you should be extra cautious. If you doubt the ingredients check the label. For teenagers always confirm from an adult if you come across a drink that you think it might have alcohol.
Alcohol is a depressant that suppresses the central nervous system, which sends signals across the body. It tells you to jump, run, sleep, and all the actions you do. The brain thinks of the action that it wants a certain body organ to do and sends a message to it. When alcohol slows down this system, the reaction time of the body is slowed down too and it can’t react quickly to the messages from the brain. That is why it is very risky to drive or operate a machine while drunk.
Besides damaging the brain, alcohol also weakens the immune system and makes one more vulnerable to diseases. Sadly, people drink! However, every action or decision has motivation, and people have different motives when it comes to alcohol drinking.
Reasons why People Drink Alcohol
Motivation is the force that drives us to pursue a certain goal. Every behavior is a goal and it has a motivation behind it. The motives why people take alcohol are damn interesting. And of course, some motives can be very personal such as a special occasion or an outing with a loved one. Alcohol is a drink that is legal and accepted in society, and people have different experiences with it.
Most people drink to celebrate an occasion or after a delicious meal. Other people drink alcohol to help them deal with stress, job issues, and family matters. Whatsoever, there are people who don’t like the smell and taste of alcohol or the feeling of being tipsy. Also, they may not like being out of control. To such people, understanding why people drink can very difficult; and more also, if it is causing problems to the user. The following are some possible reasons why people drink alcohol;
1. Past Experiences
A person’s past experiences with alcohol obviously shape the person’s current value and expectations about drinking. One remembers how good it was to be tipsy and the euphoric effects of alcohol. You felt like you are on top of the world. You forgot all your problems instantly. This increases ones motivation to drink. On the other hand, if you didn’t like your first experience with alcohol, chances are you may not try it again. The terrible hangovers that lasted for days can put you off when you hear about alcohol.
Some people drink alcohol to avoid stress. Alcohol has antianxiety properties that can inhibit feelings of stress. Most people drink it to unwind a hectic day at work. How often do you hear,” I need a bottle of beer” after a stressful situation? People believe that it helps them calm down or dispense stress.
Ironically, alcohol doesn’t help, but it only makes problems worse. One usually wakes up the following day with terrible hangovers and the problems are still staring at them. Also, it can lead to alcoholism.
3. Peer pressure
In whatever place one goes, one usually wants to do what other people are doing in order to fit in. Peer pressure is one of the major reasons why most people drink across all age gaps. One drinks because they are afraid of isolation, bullying, and intimidation from their peers. Adolescents are more vulnerable to this strong force and can be pressurized to drink even more than they want.
During happy hours at work, one may feel obligated to drink since the rest of the team are enjoying. It can also be very difficult to decline a drink when it is being pushed on your face.
4. To feel good
Within 10-15 minutes after drinking alcohol, one generally feels good. This is referred to as the euphoric effects of alcohol. It is characterized by feelings of supreme happiness and more energy. The ‘euphoric effect’ is a psychological effect and lasts only for a short duration. People drink frequently to experience this effect. It causes people to drink even though it is causing problems for them.
5. For fun
Generally, some people just want to have fun. Being tipsy makes them feel happy. Drinking alcohol with your friends or work-mates can be a fun experience for people who drink alcohol. It is a fun experience to drink in nightclubs, barbecues, and at parties.
For most people, a party is not complete without free alcohol. In an official party, a champagne rain is a norm nowadays. It is believed that alcohol enhances mood at a party and makes everyone feel good. Sadly, it later leads to binge drinking and alcohol abuse.
6. To Experiment
How does it feel to be intoxicated? What will happen to my mind and body? To get answers to all and many other questions concerning alcohol consumption, one must experiment and feel it. This mostly applies to teenagers and college students who are curious to know how it tastes and how it feels to be drunk. A pure experiment ends up being an abuse and later addiction.
7. Societal influence
Drinking alcohol has been part of our culture for centuries. We serve it in parties, drink during sports, weddings, and even in send-off. In some social and religious customs alcohol is termed as a source of nutrition due to its medicinal properties like analgesic and antiseptic powers. To open up a social gathering such as a new baby birth, alcohol is given as an offering to God.
It is so simple! Alcohol is all over. Everybody including the children can get it when they want. One would want to drink alcohol because of other reasons, but since it is available the motivation increases. Family members and friends make alcohol available to the teenagers either knowingly or unknowingly. Additionally, people who sell alcohol accept fake IDs from kids or even give it to them while knowing that they are underage for alcohol.
Consequences of Alcohol
Alcohol is harmful! It is that simple. It damages your health and can make you lose relationships. Although you may be using alcohol with good intentions such as to pain, have fun, to feel good, and many others, once you start drinking it might difficult to quit. You can end up being depended on it. Some health impacts of alcohol are irreversible such as cancer and liver cirrhosis and can lead to death.
Cravings for alcohol are very strong and one can do anything to access it. People steal and do shameful things in search of money for keeping their drinking behavior. If caught, one can face a jail term. The euphoric effects of alcohol are short-lived and are followed by a crash that involves headaches, dizziness, and other terrible hangovers. Alcohol harms a person in the following ways;
Alcohol impacts on your body immediately you take the first sip. Although a glass of beer occasionally is not a big concern, the cumulative consequences of it take its toll. Just a glass after dinner can have very minimal health impacts, but with time it might be hard to stop after one glass. Immediately after drinking alcohol, the function of the brain is suppressed. This changes your mood, slows down your reflexes, and makes you out of your own control. You can’t think straight and you may not recall all that happened when you were drunk. This is how various parts of the body are affected when you drink alcohol;
Consumption of alcohol is merely through the mouth. The effects start all from here. When you drink alcohol you instantly feel a sensation in your mouth down to the lining of the food pipe. This is burning especially if you have consumed liquors. Alcohol has carcinogenic components; if used for a long period, it can lead to cancers of the mouth, throat, and voice box. Excessive drinking causes slurred speech.
Alcohol is not digested, but it is absorbed into the bloodstream. However, not all of it is absorbed and it is left in the bowel. This increases the acidity levels in the stomach and can cause nausea and vomiting. It also burns the lining of the stomach and can cause painful sores or stomach ulcers. The high acid levels may lead to gastritis; inflammation of the stomach lining.
Symptoms of gastritis include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains. Alcohol destroys the digestive tract and prevents the intestines from absorbing essential vitamins and nutrients, which causes malnutrition. Most of the effects of alcohol on the stomach do not occur immediately, but only after damage. Also, the more one drinks, the greater the damage.
iii. Circulatory system
Alcohol can damage your lungs and heart. The probability of having heart complications for a person who drinks heavily is so high as compared to a non-alcoholic. Also, women who drink alcohol have higher risks of developing heart diseases than men who drink too. Once alcohol gets into the body, it is distributed through the blood vessels. It dilates them, increasing the blood flow rate to the skin. This causes a temporal feeling of warmth on the skin or raise in body temperature.
Alcohol causes clumping together of the red blood cells and platelets which can cause the formation of clots thus affecting the circulation of blood. Alcohol reduces the immune level in the body, making one more prone to diseases. Drinking can cause myocarditis, swelling of the muscle walls of the heart. This leads to an irregular heartbeat.
Other circulatory complications caused by alcohol include high blood pressure, stroke, and difficulty in distributing blood across the body, heart attack, and heart failure.
The easiest way to understand how alcohol affects your body is by understanding how it impacts on your brain. Some of the immediate effects of alcohol are slurred speech, blurred vision, impaired memory, decreased reaction time, and weak muscles. They are signs that you have taken too much alcohol. Alcohol reduces the communication between your body and the brain making coordination and balancing difficult.
Excessive drinking can damage brain cells, leading to a condition known as neuropathy. This causes alternating feelings of pain, numbness in the limbs, and dizziness. Moreover, it damages some parts of the central nervous system mostly the cerebellum, cerebral cortex, and the limbic system.
Drinking alcohol can damage the liver, which is the largest internal organ with various roles such as processing food to energy, getting rid of toxic products, and fighting infections. You can imagine what happens when it is damaged and can’t work. Alcohol causes liver diseases some of which are incurable. Some liver diseases related to alcohol use are;
• Fatty liver – the liver accumulates fat which reduces its capability to break down other fats. It becomes unable to perform its other functions thus affecting the whole body.
• Alcoholic hepatitis – if one continues to drink despite having a fatty liver, they can get alcoholic hepatitis. This is the swelling of the liver which prevents the flow of bile. Jaundice; yellow skin and eyes, is a result of high levels of bile.
• Liver cirrhosis – this is total damage of the liver. It is only replaced by a scar. Meaning no digestion, detoxification, and processing of important proteins. Cirrhosis is deadly and if one has it they should quit alcohol immediately as they risk liver failure.
As the liver tries to digest alcohol, it produces a chemical that is responsible for the damage of the liver cells. The damage causes inflammation and scarring as it tries to repair the damaged cells. After alcohol damages the intestines, toxins from the gut find their way to the liver which also contributes to the inflammation and scarring.
Unfortunately, alcoholics stay for years without knowing whether they have liver disease. Some early symptoms that the liver is damaged are diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pains. If the liver is seriously damaged, you will definitely experience easy bruising, jaundice, itching, swelling of the limbs and abdomen, vomiting blood, loss of appetite, and increased sensitivity to drugs, even medications since the liver is unable to process them.
Very few people pay attention to the tadpole-shaped organ behind their stomach and below the ribcage. Whichever the case, the pancreas is a pretty essential organ in a human being. It is responsible for the production of digestive juices used by intestines to digest food. It also secrets hormones such as insulin involved in the control of sugar levels in the blood.
Alcohol makes the pancreas produce toxic chemicals that cause pancreatitis. This is the swelling of blood vessels in the pancreas. There are two types of pancreatitis depending on the stage; acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. Mostly in acute pancreatitis, the pancreas swells for a few days and no permanent damage occurs.
In Chronic pancreatitis, the pancreas gets inflamed and stays like that leading to pancreas failure. Weight loss, back pain, and jaundice are some of its symptoms. Chronic pancreatitis puts one at a risk of diabetes since it cannot make insulin that is needed for blood sugar levels. Damage caused by chronic pancreatitis can be irreversible and one you are diagnosed with it you should forget that glass ASAP!
vii. Sexual and productive health
Some people think that drinking alcohol it will help them lower inhibitions and make them have crazy fun in the bed. However, it is just the opposite. Men might suffer from erectile dysfunction due to excessive drinking. It can also inhibit the secretion of sex hormones and decrease your libido. Heavy drinking can make women stop menstruating putting them in a great danger of infertility. Drinking while pregnant can cause premature birth, stillbirth, miscarriage or death of both the mother and the baby. Other conditions associated with drinking alcohol while pregnant are fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD), learning difficulties, more emotional problems, physical development abnormalities, and long-term health complications.
Alcohol use can affect how you look today and in the future. Alcohol dehydrates the skin making it dry. Heavy drinking deprives skin essential vitamins and nutrients, and at the end, it can cause detrimental effects on the skin. Alcohol can cause a puffy and bloated face. Additionally, hangovers have a bad smell. Although the liver process most of the alcohol, some evaporates through sweat, others leave the body via urine, sweat, and breath. Hence, that irritating smell!
ix. Dependence or Addiction
Alcoholism is another term used to refer to alcohol addiction. It simply means one can’t live without alcohol. Alcoholism is a severe form of alcohol abuse in which one is unable to control his/her drinking habits. People who are addicted feel like they can’t survive without alcohol. This affects their health, personal goals, and relationships. Alcoholism shows in various ways; mild, moderate, and severe. How severe it can be depend on how frequently one drinks and the amount.
Unlike other drugs, alcohol addiction can be hard to recognize since drinking is accepted in society. Alcohol is part of life for many individuals and thus when it is common, it can be difficult to differentiate between a casual drinker and a person who has a drinking problem. The following are some symptoms of alcoholism;
• Tolerance- one is unable to experience the effects after the usual amount of alcohol. They have to drink more.
• Drinking alcohol in inappropriate times like the first thing when you wake up or during working hours.
• Change of friends. One wants to hang around people who drink heavily like them.
• Neglecting responsibilities at home and work.
• Prioritizing alcohol over everything.
• Depending on alcohol to do daily activities.
• Legal problems such as arrest while driving when drunk or violence behavior.
• Lying about your drinking behaviors.
• The urge to drink when you are not drinking.
Intervention for Alcoholics
If you know that a person is having problems with alcohol, there is only one way you can help them. Talk to them! Stage an intervention and let them know how much harm they are causing to themselves and people around them. It can seem daunting to tell someone that they have a problem, but that is the first step. Plan and talk to them while sober and in a calm place. Be ready for anything since most of them deny that they have a problem and can be violent.
If you are afraid of talking to them alone, invite a close friend to them and probably a specialist. Remember to treat them with respect and avoid attacks, blames or accusations. Focus on how alcohol has caused emotional and physical problems to you and others whom they love. Assure them that you are not judging them, but you are concerned about their well being.
Despite your motivations to drink alcohol, it is harmful to your body and your behavior hurts those around you. It is time to stop and start a healthy life. Alcohol derails a person’s goals and weakens your body. Nevertheless, you don’t have to walk down the path of destruction. Reach out for help from professionals and save your life. During the process of recovery, you will learn on other ways of having fun and coping up with life’s problems without alcohol.