April 13, 2022
In college, unhealthy alcohol use can be normalized. With parties, pregaming before sports events, and high levels of stress, students can turn to alcohol as a way to fit in or cope with their emotions. Since April is Alcohol Awareness month, it's essential to understand the effects alcoholism can have in your life.
Alcohol and the Body
Alcohol affects various parts of the body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking can affect your:
Brain: Drinking can impact your brain's ability to make decisions, think things through, and perform coordinated acts.
Internal organs: Your drinking habits can damage your liver, cause heart problems, and increase blood pressure.
Cancer risks: Drinking may increase your risk of developing cancer over time.
Immunity: Those who drink frequently can have weaker immune systems.
Consuming alcohol can be a common and popular way to socialize with those around you. However, understanding and being aware of the risks can help you make informed decisions when it comes to alcohol consumption.
The Danger of Alcohol Use
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration created a report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking. In it, they found that “alcohol use is responsible for approximately 4,300 deaths annually among youth under age 21 in the United States, shortening their lives by an average of 60 years."
Excessive alcohol use can lead to suicide, dangerous driving that leads to car accidents, injuries from falls, and increased substance abuse. Besides injury or death, alcohol consumption can cause you to make risky decisions, like having unsafe sex or gambling. However, it can be easy to forget the potential consequences when you are out partying or having fun with friends, which is why it is critical to be aware of your limits and set boundaries when appropriate when it comes to alcohol.
Moderate Drinking vs. Excessive Drinking
In life, avoiding alcohol consumption altogether can feel impossible. Many cultures place a high value on drinking socially for connection, which can cause you to feel left out if you do not drink. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines moderate drinking as “two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed." They also recommend that drinking less is always better than drinking more if you do not want to stop drinking altogether.
When to Seek Help for Alcohol Use
It can be confusing to know whether your alcohol consumption habits are okay or if they are a problem that needs to be addressed. Because alcohol use is normalized in our society, you might not realize that your habits are unhealthy and need to be looked at. A few signs that you should examine your relationship with alcohol consumption include:
You use alcohol to cope: If you find that you are consistently reaching for alcohol whenever a stressor comes up in your life–big or small–you could be depending on alcohol to stabilize your moods instead of using healthy coping tools.
You use alcohol to ease social anxiety: Attending social events, parties, or meeting new people can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. However, you should not have to consume alcohol to soothe your nerves before social events.
Your work or school is being affected: Consistently waking up hungover or finding yourself unable to get through the workday without drinking can indicate that you are dependent on alcohol.
Your relationships are struggling: Many who are addicted to alcohol lie to their family and friends about their drinking habits. You may also find yourself getting blackout drunk often, which can strain your relationships.
Irritability when not drinking: Being frustrated when you cannot drink or experiencing severe changes in behavior can indicate a problem with alcohol consumption.
Ultimately, if your alcohol habits are causing stress in your life, it may be time to seek help for your alcohol use.
Choosing to get sober is a significant first step in working toward healthier habits in your life. Luckily, there are many resources out there to help you learn how to stop drinking. It's important to note that if you are dependent on alcohol, you should never quit cold turkey. Quitting cold turkey can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms such as shock and even death. It is crucial to choose to quit alcohol under the guidance and direction of licensed professionals who can help you every step of the way.
You may find that getting sober may force you to find different friends or avoid certain social situations. While this may be difficult in the short term, sobriety will benefit your life long term.
Consuming alcohol is a common social activity in many cultures, especially when going to college. While moderate drinking is much better than excessive drinking, consuming alcohol at any amount can cause damage to your body and brain. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to more significant problems, like dependencies, risky behavior, and even death. If you find that you are dependent on alcohol to cope with stress, relieve social anxiety, or stabilize your moods, you may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Luckily, you can make a goal to become sober. Because quitting cold turkey can be dangerous, those dependent on alcohol should work toward sobriety with a licensed professional. At SokyaHealth, we know how hard it can be to remove alcohol from your life. While we do not treat addiction, our licensed therapists can provide you with the support you need to become sober. Call us today at (877) 840-6956 to learn more about how we can help.