Alcohol: What You Need to Know

Let’s Talk About Alcohol

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. Because it is a depressant, it ultimately slows down activity in the central nervous system, resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, distorted perception, and slowed reaction time. It also impairs judgment and reduces a person’s ability to think rationally.

Alcohol addiction

It should be noted that although alcohol is classified as a depressant, it can act as a stimulant in small doses. The ethanol content in alcohol causes the body to release dopamine, and this, in turn, causes a person’s blood pressure and heart rate to increase initially. This is the rush that many people seek when they drink alcohol. After this initial rush begins to wear off, the depressant effects of alcohol begin to set in. The higher the quantity of alcohol consumed, the stronger the sedative effects.

It should also be noted that alcohol comes in many forms, each containing a different amount of alcohol. Beer is perhaps the most common form of alcohol, and it contains anywhere from 2 percent to 6 percent alcohol. Wine, meanwhile, contains anywhere from 8 to 20 percent. Other forms of alcohol such as tequila, rum, brandy, gin, whiskey, and vodka contain 40 percent or more alcohol. Liquors, meanwhile, contain anywhere from 15 to 60 percent.

Let’s Talk About Alcohol

Alcohol use has many short-term effects. These effects will vary depending on the amount consumed and on the biological makeup of the person consuming the alcohol. Moderate to heavier consumption of alcohol can result in drowsiness, slurred speech, impaired judgment, distorted vision and hearing, upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may also cause breathing difficulties, blackouts (memory lapses), unconsciousness, or coma. Alcohol overdose or binge drinking might even lead to death. Because heavy alcohol use also impairs judgment, heavy alcohol users are more susceptible to unintentional injuries and accidents as well.

What are the Common Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether a loved one is abusing alcohol—especially due to the social acceptance surrounding drinking. Learning some of the most common signs of alcohol abuse can help you better identify when there might be a problem. Here are some of the most common signs of alcohol abuse you may identify in a loved one:

  • Frequent absence from work, school, or other activities due to being hungover
  • Drinking despite knowing that they will be driving later
  • Drinking despite there being physical conditions that could be worsened by drinking
  • Inability to control when they drink or how much they drink
  • Increase in the amount of alcohol needed to get the same effects as before
  • Giving up once pleasurable activities to drink instead
  • Drinking in unusual circumstances, such as in the morning, alone, etc.
  • Drinking is used as a form of self-medication, such as to relieve stress
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon quitting drinking, such as shaking, nervousness, or nausea

Alcoholism in America

Alcohol is, far and away, the most abused substance in the entire world. It is the ultimate drug, if for no other reason than the socialization of alcohol has too often been ingrained into our national fabric. Today, 13% of adults in the United States are predicted to suffer from clinical alcohol dependence in their lifetimes. That’s roughly 1 out of 8 of all Americans!

The reasons for this vary, and it’s important to note that there is a distinct difference between responsible drinking and problem drinking, but a national conversation needs to be had about this expensive and dangerous social problem.

Short Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Being under the influence of alcohol can come with varied effects. Alcohol is a drug that can be both a stimulant or a depressant, depending on the situation and how much alcohol is consumed.

Those that drink alcohol do so because it loosens up inhibitions and makes it easier to “unwind,” but this can lead to risky and dangerous behavior, if people do not drink responsibly. Impaired judgement and senses is what makes alcohol dangerous to not only the people who are drinking, but also potentially to those around them.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Chronic alcoholism is a serious problem for millions of people. Long term alcoholism takes a tremendous toll on the body and mind, and can cause severe brain damage. In addition, alcohol use, over time, can damage several vital organs, such as your kidneys or liver (due to a disease called cirrhosis).

How Do You Stop Using Alcohol?

Ceasing the use of alcohol can be difficult, as withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and may even put someone’s health in extreme danger. With the right help and the right treatment approach, however, it is definitely possible to stop using alcohol. If you are a heavy alcohol user, you should know that treatment is available. Here at Renaissance Ranch, our professionals are prepared to help you through detox, diagnose any coexisting mental health issues, and arm you with a comprehensive set of much-needed tools for your recovery.

Stats on Alcohol Abuse

To learn more about the harm that alcohol causes every year, check out the infographic below!

Alcohol abuse statistics

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