Drinking alcohol from time to time is generally considered safe unless you begin drinking in excess. Consuming alcohol in large quantities can have considerable negative effects on your physical and mental health. According to alcohol abuse researchers, there is a broad range of alcohol abuse. Consuming too much alcohol may lead to alcohol use disorder and may cause other serious health issues.
How do you know how much is too much? According to the CDC, drinking in moderation typically means one drink or less for women per day and two drinks or less for men per day. However, the kind of drink you have matters. For example, one drink might be considered 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. Drinking more than these amounts or drinking frequently means you could be dealing with alcohol abuse.
The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body
Drinking too much alcohol can affect your body in several ways. Health problems that occur with heavy, frequent, or prolonged alcohol use can range from mild to severe. When you drink too much alcohol, your body is at risk of developing problems that can impact your brain and heart health, as well as other major parts of your body.
Consuming too much alcohol may increase your risk of developing anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. Heavy drinking also carries an increased risk of having Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which can cause severe confusion, visual disturbances, amnesia, and other brain-related problems. Alcohol misuse can result in other neurological problems as well, such as dementia, nerve damage in your feet and hands, and short-term memory loss.
Liver disease is among the more common health problems related to drinking too much alcohol. Having excessive amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of developing liver inflammation known as alcoholic hepatitis or too much fat in your liver. If you keep drinking heavily, you can develop cirrhosis, a serious condition where severe scarring occurs in your liver.
Drinking large amounts of alcohol or drinking frequently can affect other parts of your body. Some of these effects include the following:
- High blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and other heart problems
- Digestive issues, such as ulcers and pancreatitis
- Higher risks of certain kinds of cancer, such as colon, breast, mouth, liver, and esophagus cancer
- Increased risk of osteoporosis, or bone thinning, which leads to higher risks of bone fractures
- Lower immunity, which increases your risk of getting pneumonia and other illnesses
- Serious diabetes complications
- Sexual dysfunction
- Menstrual changes
- Weakened eye muscles and other eye problems
Signs You or Your Loved One Is Drinking Too Much
How can you tell if you or your loved one has been drinking too much alcohol? There are several signs to watch for that indicate an alcohol use disorder. These include the following:
- Having intense cravings for alcohol
- Withdrawing from social activities and hobbies
- Needing larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects
- Having an increasingly poor performance at work or school, such as failing to complete projects
- Drinking alcohol despite realizing that you’re experiencing emotional, physical, and social problems from it
- Drinking in unsafe situations, such as while you’re driving a car
- Having symptoms of withdrawal, such as shaking or nausea, if you stop drinking
- Spending more time drinking alcohol or finding ways to make sure you can get alcohol
- Knowing that you need to reduce your alcohol usage and having trouble doing so
- Struggling to limit how much alcohol you’re drinking
- Experiencing problems with interpersonal relationships related to drinking, such as lying about drinking to loved ones
What Is an Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder occurs when you have a severe drinking problem, such as trouble limiting or controlling how much you drink even if you know it’s causing you harm. When you have this disorder, you might experience alcohol intoxication due to large amounts of alcohol in your bloodstream. You might also have alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop drinking. An official medical diagnosis with this disorder involves meeting specific criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, roughly 15 million people in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder. This includes 401,000 adolescents between 12 and 17 years of age, 5.3 million women, and 9.2 million men.
Some of the signs of alcohol use disorder or addiction include the following:
- Having short-term memory loss or blackouts
- Drinking alcohol secretly or by yourself
- Choosing to drink alcohol instead of taking care of other responsibilities
- Having severe irritability or mood swings
- Isolating yourself from loved ones
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Coming up with excuses to drink, such as to cope with stress
Break Free From Alcohol Abuse at Riverside Recovery of Tampa
When you’re dealing with an alcohol use disorder, professional support and guidance can help you overcome it. Riverside Recovery provides several programs to help you become sober and improve your quality of life. Some of these include medically assisted detox, residential programs, partial hospitalization programs, and outpatient programs.
If you’re not sure which type of program would best suit your situation, please contact Riverside Recovery of Tampa. We can assist you in finding the most suitable kind of rehab program to help you overcome an alcohol use disorder. With our help, you can build a healthy and sober lifestyle.