Alcohol
Good and Bad?



The long-term effects of alcohol are yet fully understood. Although regular light-to-moderate intake has been shown to have positive effects on health, frequent heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing alcoholism, liver disease, and some forms of cancer.

Research in various countries has found the all-cause mortality rates range from 16 to 28 percent lower among moderate drinkers than abstainers.

The cardiovascular effects of consistent, moderate drinking are perhaps the most studied and the most widely-accepted. The world Health Organization Technical Committee on Cardiovascular Disease asserted that the relationship between moderate consumption and reduced death from heart disease could no longer be doubted.

If you are a nondrinker, however, you should not start drinking solely to benefit your heart. You can guard against heart disease by exercising and eating foods that are low-fat. And if pregnant, planning to become pregnant, have been diagnosed as alcoholic, or have another medical condition that could make drinking harmful, you should not drink

alcohol-glass-wine

If you can safely drink and you chose to drink, do so in moderation as heavy consumption can actually increase the risk of heart failure, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as cause many other medical problems and diseases, such as alcoholism and liver cirrhosis, which can be chronic.

Meaning that it last a person's lifetime; it usually follows a predictable course; and it has symptoms:

  • Craving; A strong desire, or urge, to drink>
  • Loss of control: Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
  • Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
  • Tolerance: The need to drink greater amounts to get high

The risk for developing the alcoholism is influenced both by a person's genes and his or her lifestyle. The cravings an alcoholic feels can be as strong as the need for food or water and he or she will continue to drink despite serious family, health, or legal problems.

alcohol-drunk

For most adults, moderate use-up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women and older people-cause few if any problems. (One drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.)

Certain people should not drink at all, however:

  • women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.People who plan to drive or engage in other activities that require alertness and skill (such as driving a car).
  • People who take certain over-the-counter or prescription medications.
  • People with medical conditions that can be made worse by drinking.
  • Recovering alcoholics.

The effects of drinking do vary with age and sex, such as:

  • Older people have a lower tolerance for drinking.
  • Older people are on more medications and have more medical problems.
  • Women become more impaired after drinking than men.
  • Chronic abuse takes a heavier toll on women than men. Medical problems, such as brain, heart, and liver damage, progress more rapidly in women than men.

alcohol-bar

Warning Signs

The presence of any of the following indicators suggest that an individual may have a serious drinking problem or be at risk for developing one and may need help:

  • Drinking is causing a persistent or recurring social, work, financial, legal, or health problem.
  • The individual has tried unsuccessfully to cut down the extent of use. Or, once the person starts drinking control over the amount consumed is lost.
  • Individual commonly drinks alone.
  • Drinks to relax prior to social events as compared to drinking at the social event.
  • Drinks first thing in the morning as an "eye-opener" or to get rid of a hangover.
  • Individual makes claims such as: "I can drink a lot without it having an effect on me."
  • Uses drinking as a means of coping with life's problems.
  • There is a family history of abuse.

Moderate drinking does seem to have some health benefits, whereas abuse can be devastating to both the person and family. Stay on the healthy side of drinking and avoid falling over the fence into the abuse side. Alcoholism cannot be cured at this time but can be treated through different counseling programs and medications.

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