A few drinks every few weeks with friends or a glass of wine every evening may do little harm, but any more than that on a regular basis and the negative effects can start to erupt.
At first, you may not notice that your body and behavior are changing. Other people will most likely notice it before you do. And many of these changes and problems are temporary with easy fixes. Others, however, can cause lasting damage that you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.
There are dozens of ways that drinking can affect your body and your life. Here are just a few of the most drastic.
- You Can Become Dependent
“I can stop drinking any time I want.” People who are dependent on alcohol may tell themselves that, but it’s not true. The prolonged use of alcohol on a daily basis can cause your body to become dependent on it both physically and emotionally.
Only having a drink per day — or a few once a week — is not going to turn you into an alcoholic. But, if you overdo it, withdrawal can be painful. Be careful that you don’t let your body start depending on alcohol to function comfortably. That’s a path nobody wants to go down.
- You Can Get Into Trouble With the Law
If you become dependent on alcohol, and are drinking and getting drunk frequently, you could end up driving under the influence, getting arrested and embroiling yourself in legal troubles. According to David Hunter, a DWI lawyer in Sugar Land, “Failure to act quickly and knowledgeably in response to standard law enforcement procedures can lead to loss of your license or even land you in jail.”
- It Can Cause Liver Damage
The liver is typically the first organ people think of when it comes to drinking alcohol. In fact, many people often think of liver damage before they think of dependency. Alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis and excess fat on your liver are all problems that drinking too much can cause. Medicine can do amazing things these days, and there’s treatment for alcoholism. But do you really want to be in the position where your life depends on it?
- It Can Increase Cancer Risk
Research shows that there is a link between excessive drinking and certain types of cancer. Head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer all have a higher chance of developing in an otherwise healthy person who drinks too much.
- It Can Cause Heart Damage
Chronic drinkers are more likely to develop a number of heart conditions than those who stay away from alcohol. Heart attack, heart disease, heart failure and stroke are three more serious issues that can arise, along with high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.
It’s more likely for women who drink to develop heart disease than men, but that doesn’t mean men are safe from any of these risks. Alcohol can even cause difficulty in the heart pumping blood sufficiently throughout the body. Your circulatory system is vital to your survival, so please take care of it.
- It Can Weaken Your Immune System
If you’re one of the lucky people who never contracts the common cold, drinking too much can make you kiss that good luck goodbye. Heavy drinkers weaken their immune system over time, making it more difficult for your body to fight off germs and viruses.
Pneumonia and tuberculosis are two more terrifying conditions that chronic drinkers are more likely to contract. Alcohol consumption is tied to approximately 10% of worldwide cases of tuberculosis.
- It Can Cause Digestive Troubles
Society is no stranger to the beer belly. Anything consumed in excess can cause weight gain it’s true, but sometimes a bloated belly from drinking may not be caused by all those extra calories you’re taking in every day.
Heavy drinking can lead to gassiness and bloating, plus an uncomfortable feeling of fullness in your abdomen like you’ve eaten a big meal that never digests. It can also lead to diarrhea or the opposite — constipation — which both can result in secondary problems. Ulcers, dehydration and hemorrhoids are all negative effects of certain digestive troubles.
- You Can Waste Away
Over time, alcoholism can lead to your muscles deteriorating. It can also weaken your bones. Weaker bone structure increases your risk of fractures. And those fractures will likely heal more slowly in an alcoholic.
Along with the muscle weakness, drinking brings cramping, and eventually, muscle atrophy may also come along. Muscle atrophy is when muscles waste away so much that they can’t be restored with measures, such as diet, exercise and physical therapy. Luckily, if muscle atrophy is caught early enough, it can be reversed. But it’s better to never let it happen in the first place.