Despite the fact that alcohol is legally available and socially acceptable, at the end of the day it is a drug –and a dangerous one at that. Many people believe that alcohol is harmless because of the fact that it is available and, because of this, binge drinking is common, especially among teenagers and young adults. However, the dangers of alcohol cannot be underestimated. New research has found strong links between alcohol and seven different forms of cancer. There are also many other health issues related to excessive alcohol consumption including high blood pressure, dementia, depression, heart disease, liver disease, and kidney disease.
Although much has been written and reported about the dangers of alcohol, it would appear that many people still cannot comprehend this fact. Alcohol has been socially acceptable for many years, and it is present at many different events. Most individuals socialise with alcohol either at home with family, or friends or in pubs and clubs, where the business model revolves around the sale of alcohol.
It is only in recent years that health officials have emphasised the dangers of alcohol. In fact, a review of the recommended alcohol guidelines was carried out by Public Health England in 2015, with the results published in January 2016.
This review saw a reduction in the recommended weekly guidelines for men from twenty-one units per week to fourteen. The current guidelines for men and women now both stand at fourteen units per week.
Professor Dame Sally Davies was keen to point out at the time the report was published that there is actually no safe level of alcohol consumption that can prevent against a number of diseases. She said that while it was safer to stick to the new guidelines, it would by no means help in the prevention of illnesses such as liver disease and some cancers.
The majority drink moderately and never drink to get drunk. Nevertheless, some individuals regularly drink more than the recommended amount, with some drinking the recommended weekly amount in just one drinking session. This is extremely dangerous to health and can cause a host of mental and physical health problems.
Alcohol consumption can have short- and long-term effect on the body. Short-term effects include poor coordination, lowered inhibitions, slow reflexes, poor concentration, slurred speech, sleep problems, problems with vision, vomiting, nausea, breathing difficulties, and passing out. The extent to which alcohol can affect a person will depend on the amount of alcohol he or she drinks in one session as well as other factors such as age, gender, weight and other health issues.
While short-term alcohol abuse can be dangerous to health, long-term abuse can lead to even greater problems. Continuous abuse of alcohol over an extended period of time can result in issues with brain development, liver disease, stomach ulcers, damaged internal organs, increased blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, problems with reproduction system, anaemia, addiction, and death. Those who abuse alcohol while pregnant are also risking the health of their unborn child, with many babies born with foetal alcohol syndrome, which can affect their future development.
Those who abuse alcohol are at risk of developing an increased tolerance and becoming physically dependent on it. Alcohol addiction can cause many harmful consequences for the individual concerned and the people closest to this person.
Living with an alcoholic can be unpredictable and upsetting. Those who have become compelled to drink may be unable to stop even if they want to. No matter what the consequences, they will be unable to control their drinking. It can lead to financial problems and strained relationships.
While some alcoholics are able to function and can hold down a job, others are affected more deeply. Their dependence on alcohol may prevent them from performing well at work, and they could be forced to take days off because they are either intoxicated or are recovering from a particularly heavy drinking session. This can lead to reduced take-home pay and financial hardship domestically.
Children are particularly affected by addiction. Living with an alcoholic parent can result in emotional problems including loneliness, fear, shame, embarrassment, confusion, and guilt. Many children blame themselves for the way an addicted parent behaves. They think that they must have done something to cause their parent to get angry or aggressive. They do not understand that it is an illness that causes their parent to act in this way, and they could struggle emotionally as a result.
Many children suffer neglect, which can make them the target for bullies at school. Even those who do not get bullied might become isolated and withdrawn as they try to avoid getting too close to their peers due to embarrassment about their parent’s addiction.
Excessive alcohol consumption is dangerous for the individual in terms of health and wellbeing, but it can also pose dangers to the wider community. Alcohol abuse is often linked to accidents and crime, which can affect entire communities.
Those who drive under the influence of alcohol are in danger of injuring or killing not only themselves but other drivers and pedestrians.
Alcohol abuse and addiction also affects innocent victims of crime. Some individuals become aggressive and violent when under the influence of alcohol and may attack innocent people. There is a strong link between violent crime and alcohol abuse.
The dangers of alcohol may be clearer these days, but there are still many people who do not see the harm in this chemical substance. In fact, some people are still of the opinion that moderate drinking is beneficial to health, which is certainly not the case.
The reality is that alcohol is something that can cause a host of problems if abused. Most health experts believe more needs to be done to educate people about the dangers of alcohol as too many are still developing devastating addictions that are destroying their lives and the lives of those around them.