All you need to know about hitting the bottle.


Lots of people frequent bars, liquor stores, clubs, pubs, beer parlors, hotels and other such places where the regular consumption of alcoholic beverages is the main activity. We sure do attend parties, get-togethers, events, cocktails, and other such funtions where the consumption of alcoholic beverages is a major affair.

In our society today, the consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages is something everyone indulges in at some level. It is associated with business, ego, pleasure, necessity (as an internal body warming agent in cold climes) or merely a habit cultivated over time. On the average, people consume alcohol too regularly, making it a billion dollar business the world over. Finding someone who doesn’t consume alcohol in some way is very rare indeed but finding one that often gets drunk with it is all too common!

Depending on the region and the person you ask, alcohol can be a blessing or a curse, a tonic or just pure poison! Even as a glass of wine, beer or cocktail can be very relaxing and even beneficial to health, it can be incredibly devastating or downright harmful as well. A lot depends on the person, the kind of wine or alcoholic beverage consumed and the dose.

Indeed, a lot depends on how your body, your system, handles alcohol and the kind of substance you drink. Going over your limit (your body's overall capacity to hold alcohol) too often can lead to the development of chronic health disorders such as cancer, heart and liver damage and even depression.

So since we all consume alcoholic beverages in one way or another, it’s very important to weigh up the pros and cons of how alcohol consumption affects us in other to know where we stand.

The Definition Of Moderate and Heavy Drinking


Moderate Drinking

As with everything in nature, the advantages of alcohol consumption are measured in terms of drinking moderately. For the ladies, one glass a day does it but the gentlemen may push it to two drinks a day – this is according to research from the top experts at Harvard. By general standards, one drink is considered to be 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer, roughly totaling about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol in each drink taken.

Heavy Drinking

This is when you literally kick the bottle or bottles and gulp the alcoholic beverage down like its water. In some cases, this is a person merely going over his or her limit to hold alcohol. If one glass of wine gets you drunk and you keep taking just three, then your high alcohol intake has put you among the ranks of people who go at it in bottlefuls all the time, those are the professionals. You get drunk, they get drunk; the same thing! Or maybe you are just drunker! (Binge drinking - see below)


The Substance Being Drank And Your Body’s Ability To Handle It.



Yes, a lot depends on the stuff you are drinking and your body’s ability to handle it. Many people can handle 3 pints of beer within an hour and even more while others get drunk on just half a pint! A full glass of wine can be relaxing to one person but devastating to the next. A small shot of demon Vodka can be very satisfying to one person but put hairs on the chest of another and set it on fire! This same shot of vodka has been known to be responsible for the deaths of several young people, mostly young women.

If you do not find your body’s alcohol tolerance limits and stick to it, drinking alcohol in moderation, then nothing good will come out of your drinking alcohol. Below are the things you reap if you walk the carefree path with alcohol.

The Disadvantages of Drinking Alcohol



1. Addiction

Alcohol addiction or dependence is when you get hooked on it. You end up drinking alcohol too regularly and it eventually gets out of control, leading to alcoholism. (people in their 40s, most affected)


2. Liver Diseases

With the regular consumption of more than 30 grams of alcohol (3 glasses of wine) daily, comes a sharp increase in the risk of liver diseases such as cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis.

Alcoholic hepatitis, the inflammation of the liver is brought on by heavy drinking, whereas, Liver cirrhosis, the replacement of healthy cells in the liver with scarred tissues, comes with mere high levels of alcohol. Liver cirrhosis, at its end-stage, is a life-threatening chronic disease you don’t want, just take my word for it. (people in their 40s, most affected).


3. Chronic Depression

With increased alcohol intake comes a high risk of depression: Heavy drinkers are more susceptible to chronic depression and hangovers than moderate or non-drinkers. (most affected, people aged 35 to 50).



4. Weight gain

A substance like red wine contains nearly three times the number of calories found in beer and sugary soft drinks. Excessive consumption of this wine and others like it may make you gain too much weight. But it’s not just wine. All alcoholic beverages have the ability to induce weight gain since they serve up a staggering 7 calories per gram without offering any manner of nutrients along with it! (most vulnerable age group 40 - 60).


5. Premature or Accelerated Aging

Alcohol, once within the body, destroys collagen, which is essential for skin health. Collagen is what keeps your skin and flesh looking fresh and firm, youthful and glowing. Alcohol attacks the muscles and flesh, weakening and aging them, making them sag. Hence, the muscles of the loosen up, particularly around the stomach, resulting in stomach bloating while facial appearances look older than normal. (most affected age group 35-60).


6. Other Chronic Diseases

Increased intake of alcohol or heavy drinking can lead to a host of chronic diseases. Aside from the liver ailments mentioned before, there are heart diseases which are caused by damage to heart muscles, the result of an increase in blood pressure.

Heavy drinking also plays a major role in the development of too many cancers – colon, liver, breast and mouth cancers, say experts at Harvard who have carried out over 100 scientific studies on the subject. The University of Rochester’s Medical Center which based its research on the effects of heavy drinking on women found that it increased the risks of osteoporosis, particularly in young women.

In men, heavy drinking dramatically increases the risks of heart attack and diabetes. (most affected ages, 21 - 40)



7. Negative Influence on The Brain

Heavy drinking or high intake of alcohol has a negative influence on the brain which ranges from the disruption of sleeping patterns to disorientation and chronic headaches. Heavy drinking also clouds judgment, giving rise to destructive decisions such as violence or getting in behind the wheel of a car.


8. Death

Consuming alcohol over moderate limits for even 1 – 3 days a week increases the risk of sudden death. In men, the risk of heart attacks goes up. In younger people, heavy drinking almost always leads to premature death. (most vulnerable age groups...18-40).

Conclusion: Most disadvantages of alcohol intake show up once you go over the limit (your limit) of moderate drinking, arriving at the point of high alcohol intake, heavy drinking or downright drunkenness.

Once the heavy drinking begins, it leads nowhere else but to addiction, diseases, weight gain, chronic depression, premature aging, and finally, death.

The Advantages of Drinking Alcoholic Beverages



Moderate drinking gives the body the opportunity of utilizing the nutrients present in some alcoholic beverages.


1. Lowers Risks Of Death and Disease

Moderate drinking cuts down the risk of death from heart attacks and clot-caused strokes. The body even makes use of certain chemicals such as antioxidants present in some wines to boost the overall health of the cardiovascular system.

Very reasonable and moderate consumption of alcohol increases your body’s high-density lipoprotein levels. Lipoprotein is the “good” cholesterol, which works to improve the health of the heart and protect it against diseases of all kinds. Certain kinds of alcohol are better at protecting the heart than others -- red wine, in particular, with its rich concentration of polyphenols, cuts down blood pressure markedly.



2. Anti-aging and longevity

Certain kinds of wine, such as red wine specifically, are rich in antioxidants and other compounds that promote longevity in humans. Interestingly, moderate consumption of red wine will work wonders for your health and skin but high intake of it will not.

3. Brain Health Booster

Moderate drinking, which keeps blood pressure down, protects blood vessels in the brain, and those in the heart as well. This decreases the risk of dementia, notes the University of Rochester Medical Center.


The Effects of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is that habit where a person drinks moderately for certain periods but goes loose at intervals. The law of averages doesn’t apply in drinking. One drink each day might be beneficial to your health over time but the same doesn’t apply to drinking one glass each day, all week, and then hitting the bottle for seven to eight drinks on one single weekend night. Medically, this is the riskiest pattern of drinking known.

According to Prof. Sharon C. Wilsnack of clinical neuroscience at the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine & Health Sciences, ‘when you binge-drink -- say you consume more than four drinks in about two hours if you’re a woman and five drinks if you’re a man -- the health effects are a lot like those of a heavy drinker. This increases the rates of high blood pressure, and you’re more likely to have a major stroke’.

Conclusion 

Now you do know the advantage and disadvantages of drinking alcoholic beverages, so the question is, which outweighs the other? Certainly, life would be a lot better without the disadvantages.

Don’t over-drink, don’t binge drink, stick to your limits at all times and you’ll be fine. You’ll live longer even!

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Laura Zeaman. MD

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