When people think of dangerous drugs, they probably think of heroin, crack cocaine, crystal meth or strong painkillers like oxycodone. Because it’s legal, alcohol isn’t usually thought of as a substance with the potential to kill you or lead to chronic, irreversible health problems. Drinking is widely accepted as a rite of passage, something everyone does as they approach adulthood. In some circles, to refuse to drink socially is considered odd or antisocial. In movies and in the media, drinking is often glamorized, and the dangers of abusing alcohol are often minimized or ignored. You may feel like you’re supposed to have a cocktail with dinner or drink to honor someone who is getting married or graduating. Society tells you that if you have a bad day at work, you should go home, have a few drinks and forget your stress. For a lot of people, having a drink leads to having several more. You may find that the more you drink, the more you want to drink. The truth is that alcohol is a very dangerous drug. It can wreak havoc with your health, destroy your family, your career and your hopes and dreams. Worst of all, it can directly result in your death, or cause you to be responsible for causing death or harm to others, including strangers, friends and your own children. It isn’t always long-term drinking that leads to severe consequences. A single episode with drunkenness can lead to disasters that can ruin your life, assuming you survive. Examples include:
- Driving drunk and being in a fatal car accident, in which the victim is either yourself, a passenger in your car or an innocent stranger.
- Driving drunk and causing bodily harm to others, which may lead to a prison term.
- Being the victim of a violent crime because you were too drunk to escape or fight back.
- Committing crimes or domestic abuse because you’re under the influence.
- Accidental death or injuries from operating machinery, drowning or failing to escape from a fire because you weren’t sober.
These are just a few examples of consequences of drinking to excess even on one occasion. If you’re like most people, you’re probably quick to think that these things will only happen to other people, not to you. If you drink on a long-term basis, the use or abuse of alcohol can lead to even more serious consequences.
The Perils of Habitual Drinking or Heavy Drinking
There is nothing glamorous about what happens to people who drink heavily, especially over a long period of time. Heavy drinkers are prone to serious health consequences that may be life-threatening. Most people are familiar with the fact that alcoholics often develop cirrhosis of the liver, but that isn’t the only possible health problem. Chronic drinking increases the risk of certain forms of cancer, including esophageal cancer and liver cancer. It also increases the risk of other major health problems including stroke and diabetes. Heavy drinking doesn’t have to be long-term to result in devastating consequences. Drinking heavily on one occasion can still be very hazardous. Alcohol poisoning resulting in death has been known to be caused by fraternity pledging or similar social peer pressure. Combining alcohol with other substances can also lead to major problems. People who have been prescribed painkillers or medications for anxiety or depression can experience slowed respiration and sudden death if these substances are combined with alcohol. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and may lead you to do things you wouldn’t do if you weren’t drinking. For some people, this includes promiscuous sexual behavior or abusing street drugs. Alcohol is a substance that will impair your judgment and cause you to take unnecessary risks. If you become an alcoholic, you will lose the power to choose to stop drinking even when you know alcohol is causing you harm. It can and will ruin your health and your life. But even if you don’t cross the line into addiction, alcohol is a dangerous substance that can cause accidents, aggression, health problems and errors in judgment that can have horrible consequences. Drinking to excess, even on a single occasion, can cost you your life. [ctabox] Learn more about Promises P.A.T.H Alcoholism Treatment Program and call to speak confidentially with a Recovery Specialist. [/ctabox]