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Health Risks of Alcohol: Problems Caused By Chronic Heavy Drinking

Alcohol use can begin to take a toll on anyone’s physical and mental well-being over time. These effects may be more serious and more noticeable if you drink regularly and tend to have more ways alcohol can kill you than 1 or 2 drinks when you do. Past guidance around alcohol use generally suggests a daily drink poses little risk of negative health effects — and might even offer a few health benefits.

ways alcohol can kill you

If your body can’t manage and balance your blood sugar levels, you may experience greater complications and side effects related to diabetes. Alcohol can cause both short-term effects, such as lowered inhibitions, and long-term effects, including a weakened immune system. The morning after a night of over-imbibing can cause some temporary effects on your brain. Things like trouble concentration, slow reflexes and sensitivity to bright lights and loud sounds are standard signs of a hangover, and evidence of alcohol’s effects on your brain. But there’s plenty of research to back up the notion that alcohol does lead to weight gain in general.

The short-term effects of alcohol

Drinking moderately if you’re otherwise healthy may be a risk you’re willing to take. But heavy drinking carries a much higher risk even for those without other health concerns. Be sure to ask your healthcare professional about what’s right for your health and safety. Binge drinking is behavior that raises blood alcohol levels to 0.08%.

Anyone who consumes too much alcohol too quickly may be in danger of an alcohol overdose, also called alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking refers to a pattern of drinking that brings BAC to 0.08% or higher in a short period. This typically occurs after females consume four drinks or more and males consume five drinks or more during a 2-hour period.

Stage 4: Alcohol Dependence

That’s why many of us wonder if a month of avoiding drinking is enough to “reset” your liver back to normal. But a full detox is needed for the most benefit, and how much time that takes depends on a variety of personal factors. Benzodiazepines form the mainstay of alcohol withdrawal treatment. These medications can reduce the frequency and severity of serious complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens. For those with known AUD, it is best to coordinate alcohol reduction or cessation with a healthcare professional so they can proactively manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

  • As blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases, so does the effect of alcohol—as well as the risk of harm.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications to treat alcohol dependence.
  • We go to happy hour after work, we give toasts at weddings, and we drink to celebrate and mark occasions.
  • If enough acid and alcohol build up, you get nauseated and you may throw up.

As well as having a detrimental health effect, AUD can create or worsen significant professional and personal challenges. People with AUD should consider seeking support for this condition. Under those circumstances, doctors may use barbiturates instead. The most common barbiturate for alcohol withdrawal is phenobarbital. Ensuring that you drink responsibly can prevent alcohol poisoning.

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