The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of
Alcohol Consumption and Addiction
By Scarlet Gratton
Alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused substances in the world. While some boast about the health benefits of certain alcoholic beverages, others (predominantly the medical community) continue to warn against the dangers of alcohol abuse or even prolonged consumption. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that there is clear difference between an alcoholic and a casual drinker, and that the consequences of alcohol consumption can be vastly different for both groups.
Needless to say, you should refrain from indulging too much in any substance that affects your sobriety, including marijuana and alcohol, especially those that can get you addicted quite easily and potentially ruin your long-term health. To achieve this, though, you need context. You need to understand exactly what alcohol does to your body, and mind. Here’s what you need to know.
Moderate consumption can be good
Before we tackle the bad side of alcohol consumption and the downright ugly consequences of alcohol abuse, let’s first take into account the possible health benefits moderate alcohol consumption can bring to the table. First and foremost, everyone has heard about the health benefits of drinking one glass of red wine a day. And indeed, red wine does have the ability to mildly improve long-term heart health by improving the health of your gut biome.
Additionally, it may positively impact people who suffer from type 2 diabetes by “modestly reducing cardiometabolic risk” in adults. The naturally-occurring phenol called resveratrol found in grapes, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and peanuts has been shown to have benefits not only for gut biome, but brain health (especially after a stroke) and blood pressure as well.
While more trials are needed to confirm numerous speculations that wine can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancers, researchers are enthusiastic about unraveling the full health benefits of wine consumption in the battle against the insidious disease.
But that’s all about wine, what about all of the other alcohol types out there? Well, aside from some dubious health benefits of beer, alcohol pretty much does nothing for your body but damage your long-term health.
Again, beer is touted as a natural remedy for many ailments and conditions, ranging from heart health, through weight loss, all the way to minimizing cancer risk and improving cholesterol. However, the key takeaway is that beer, along with other alcoholic beverages, will not bring you any health benefits that you wouldn’t otherwise get from a healthy lifestyle. In fact, you stand to lose much more than you would gain from alcohol consumption.
Overconsumption is definitely bad
At the very least, alcohol damages your liver. Even small amounts of alcohol have been found to put heavy strain on your liver, which is tasked with substance filtration. In other words, everything you ingest must first be filtered through the liver in order for the nutrients to be pushed into your bloodstream. And alcohol, mind you, has almost no nutrients.
But the biggest risk of consuming alcohol is addiction. Alcohol addiction affects millions of people around the world, and a big part of the question how does alcohol affect the body has to do with how it affects your mind. In a nutshell, alcohol can negatively affect long-term cognitive functions, and worst yet, make it extremely difficult to give it up.
Needless to say, if you feel like you are becoming dependent on your nightcap, or if you’re aware that you have a drinking problem, you need to seek professional help. Much like with any other addictive substance, eliminating alcohol from your life is not something you should do alone, as there is a distinct chance that you will relapse into your former state. Instead, you need to tackle the problem with the help of rehab specialists before it’s too late.
How alcohol addiction can get ugly
So, what is “too late”? Quite simply, alcohol addiction can ruin your life in a myriad of ways - from destroying you financially and costing you your job and your family, to destroying you mentally and physically by ruining your psychological and physical health. But that’s not the worst part.
The ugly truth is that alcohol addiction can kill you. From alcohol poisoning to liver cirrhosis, all the way to cancer and heart problems, an alcohol addiction is a recipe for disaster, especially if you take your consumption to the extreme. What’s more, dying from alcohol addiction is a slow and painful process, one that could have been prevented with a sound rehab plan and professional help.
In the end, the reality is that you stand to gain nothing when it comes to health and longevity by drinking alcohol. Sure, an occasional drink with family or friends won’t hurt you, but indulging in alcoholic beverages on a regular basis can and will negatively impact your long-term health. With this information in mind, be sure to reduce alcohol consumption to a healthy amount, and seek professional help if you recognize that you are suffering from an addiction.
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