However, if you drink alcohol regularly, you risk a lot – not only your own health and productivity but also your family and professional life. Because the evening glass of wine or bottle of beer quickly turns into two or three – and that has extremely harmful consequences.
Alcohol damages all organs and body functions
Whether and to what extent your own health is harmed by alcohol depends on many factors: the amount of alcohol consumed, the frequency with which alcohol is drunk, genetic makeup, gender, body weight, and general health.
But as soon as more alcohol is drunk than the organism can metabolize at the moment, the excess remains in the blood, for the time being, circulates through the entire body, and reaches every corner. There the alcohol leads to massive changes in the biochemistry of the organism, damages the sensitive nerve cells, and impairs all organ and body functions.
Even a single binge drinking (binge drinking, \”binge drinking\”) can cause significant damage to the body. And those who drink too much alcohol over a long period of time will end up with a whole range of chronic illnesses or acute health problems. The most well-known alcohol-related diseases include liver diseases, pancreatic damage, cardiovascular problems, cancer, and, in the long term, mental disorders.
What is excessive alcohol consumption?
Of course, alcohol is particularly harmful if you consume too much alcohol. Since excessive alcohol consumption is already the third most common preventable cause of death in Germany as well as in the United States (after smoking and high blood pressure or obesity), it is clear that excessive alcohol consumption has long ceased to be uncommon. In fact, alcohol is the most common cause of premature death among young men.
But what is \”excessive alcohol consumption\”?
Excessive alcohol consumption occurs when a woman consumes 8 and a man 15 alcoholic drinks per week. Anyone who drinks 4 to 5 or more drinks within two hours is already a binge drinker, even if this only happens once a month or quarter. (With pregnant women, however, any alcohol consumption counts as excessive alcohol consumption.)
In the USA, it is already one in six people who indulge in binge drinking four times a month and drink not just 4 to 5, but even 8 alcoholic drinks within two hours. In Germany, half of the 18 to 25-year-olds state that they have devoted themselves to binge drinking in the past month. For those under 18, it is just under 20 percent.
Are you a binge drinker?
Alcoholic drinks are not only understood to mean strong long drinks or hard liquor, as one might suspect. An alcoholic drink is already a small glass of wine (0.15 liters), a glass of beer (0.3 liters), or 40 ml of a spirit. So if you drank 0.6 liters of wine, 1.8 liters of beer, or 0.2 liters of spirits in a single evening, you are a binge drinker.
Most binge drinkers are between 18 and 34 years old. And 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 goes over the counter when they drink a binge. However, those who discovered alcohol for themselves under the age of 21 are more likely to become alcoholics than people who take up alcoholic drinks later.
End of the line alcoholism
The road to alcoholism is a very short one due to the ready availability of alcohol and its multilayered effects on the psyche. Once addicted, however, it becomes very difficult to get out of the addiction. And even if you take the effort of withdrawal, there is little chance you will stay permanently dry. Only one in seven alcoholics is said to be able to do this. All others will relapse again within a year.
It is clear that an alcoholic (if he does not manage to withdraw) has no future – neither professionally nor personally. Alcohol destroys all areas of his life. The alcoholic may not even be aware of this, because the neurotoxin poisons the brain to such an extent that the personality changes in the long term (which is not the case with tobacco, by the way). And for a person whose purpose in life is getting a drug, it doesn\’t really matter whether they have a family, a home, or a job.
You don\’t have to be a binge drinker, and you don\’t have to be an alcoholic to enjoy the harmful effects of alcohol. Depending on your constitution, considerably smaller amounts are already harmful, as we have already pointed out here: Just one drink a day leads to cirrhosis of the liver
Because the breakdown of alcohol in the body creates acetaldehyde, a highly harmful and carcinogenic substance that not only causes cancer but can also cause a lot more damage.
The top 10 alcohol-related diseases
The top 10 most common health problems associated with alcohol use are the following:
1. Liver disease caused by alcohol
Most of the alcohol consumed has to be disposed of by the liver. For this reason, the liver is particularly at risk when one glass after the other is emptied.
Whether liver diseases show up depends on the condition and detoxification capacity of the liver, the amount of alcohol, and the period in which the alcohol abuse takes place. The more and the more often alcohol is drunk, the higher the risk that the liver will one day give up.
Fatty liver develops first in 90 percent of all people who drink alcohol excessively. This is because alcohol encourages the liver to store more fat in place. Fatty liver can then very easily develop into inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) – and from this in turn cirrhosis of the liver (in 40 percent of all alcohol-related hepatitis diseases).
However, if the liver is no longer able to fulfill its functions and tasks, then death occurs through multiple organ failure – and often faster than one thinks since a sick liver usually only reports symptoms when it already does is badly damaged.
If there is initially only one fatty liver and the person concerned would give up the alcohol in time, the fatty liver would regress within a few weeks (depending on the diet, of course). The scarred tissue of liver cirrhosis, on the other hand, can hardly be reversed.
2. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) caused by alcohol
Excessive alcohol consumption and the resulting acetaldehyde also damage the pancreas. The result is an extremely painful inflammation – usually after 5 to 10 years of regular alcohol consumption. In most cases, inflammation of the pancreas leads directly to the hospital. Here, too, immediate abstinence is required and can significantly contribute to healing.
If one cannot stop the alcohol, large parts of the pancreatic tissue perish, and the acute risk of death increases. Only 20 to 60 percent of patients survive.
If you give up drinking temporarily, but then occasionally reach for the bottle again after pancreatitis has healed, renewed acute inflammation attacks, chronic pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer can occur. The chances of survival in the latter are hardly worth mentioning.
3. Cancer from alcohol
If you drink alcohol regularly, you can develop many other forms of cancer in addition to pancreatic cancer, for which non-drinkers have a significantly lower risk. In the first place are liver and colon cancer. But also mouth, tongue, and larynx cancer are available. In women, moreover, breast cancer.
Here it is the acetaldehyde and the alcohol itself that jointly lead to cancerous cell damage. Anyone who smokes at the same time, which is not very rare with alcohol consumers, can expect an even higher risk of cancer, as tobacco increases the carcinogenic effect of alcohol – especially with regard to cancers of the upper digestive tract and the respiratory tract.
4. Stomach ulcers and gastrointestinal complaints
Since alcohol first and foremost ends up in the stomach, where it irritates and damages the gastric mucous membrane cells, stomach problems are widespread among alcohol consumers – from heartburn to gastric mucosal inflammation and gastric ulcers.
Alcohol also stimulates the secretion of acid in the stomach, delays gastric emptying, and impairs peristalsis (bowel movements that lead to smooth digestion) in the entire digestive system. Alcohol slows down, complicates, and thus worsens digestion. A digestive schnapps is, therefore, a very unfavorable and ineffective affair – unless it contains digestive bitter herbs, but these would work much better without alcohol.