Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs in the world. In fact, some people end each day with a glass of wine or a can of beer. While this behavior might seem normal, daily drinking poses serious health risks.
To reduce the risk of alcohol addiction, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends that women have no more than one alcoholic beverage per day and men have no more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
However, even when you stay within these limits, daily drinking puts you at an increased risk of both short-term and long-term side effects.
Short-Term Risks Of Daily Drinking
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who drink too much are more likely to experience motor vehicle crashes, burns, falls, drownings, and other accidents. That’s because alcohol impairs your judgment and coordination.
Alcohol’s effect on judgment can also lead you to have unsafe sex, which increases your risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, alcohol makes you more likely to commit various types of violence, including suicide, homicide, and sexual assault.
Daily drinking also raises your risk of alcohol poisoning (also called alcohol overdose). This life-threatening condition occurs when you drink so much that your breathing, heart rate, and other vital functions start to shut down. Common symptoms include:
- slow or irregular breathing
- slow heart rate
- nausea and vomiting
- pale, clammy, or bluish skin
- loss of consciousness
You face a higher risk of alcohol poisoning if you engage in binge drinking. Binge drinking occurs when a woman has 4 or more alcoholic drinks in about 2 hours and a man has 5 or more alcoholic drinks in about 2 hours.
Long-Term Risks Of Daily Drinking
In the long run, daily drinking can increase your risk of numerous health problems, including:
According to the National Cancer Institute, people who have at least one drink per day face a higher risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, esophagus cancer, and liver cancer.
This is because your body breaks down alcohol into a substance called acetaldehyde, which is a carcinogen (a compound that can cause cancer).
Regular drinking can harm your cardiovascular system. In particular, it can cause high blood pressure and force your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. This can lead to heart diseases such as:
- heart infection
- irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmias)
- stretching of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
- heart attack
When you drink alcohol, most of it is metabolized (broken down) by your liver. Thus, daily alcohol use puts significant stress on your liver and raises your risk of conditions such as:
- alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
- liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
- steatosis (fatty liver disease)
Weakened Immune System
Drinking alcohol every day can weaken your immune system. This makes you more likely to develop various illnesses, including common conditions like colds and severe diseases like pneumonia.
Mental Health Problems
Too much alcohol can cause or worsen mental health concerns such as:
- psychosis (a loss of connection with reality that typically involves hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia)
- antisocial behaviors, such as impulsivity and aggression
In addition, excessive drinking can worsen symptoms of preexisting mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia.
Over time, regular drinking can damage the brain and cause cognitive issues such as:
- reduced attention span
- trouble concentrating
- trouble learning new things
- poor memory
Also, in some cases, daily drinking can increase your risk of dementia, especially if you have more than one or two drinks a day.
Even if you’re not drinking heavily, daily alcohol use can increase your risk of alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction (also called alcohol use disorder) is a condition that makes you feel unable to control your alcohol intake.
The most common symptoms are tolerance and physical dependence. Tolerance means you need an increasingly larger or more frequent amount of alcohol to feel the desired effects.
Physical dependence means your body starts relying on alcohol to function. When you don’t drink, you may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms like shaking, sweating, and irritability.
Other symptoms of alcohol addiction may include:
- strong cravings for alcohol
- loss of motivation
- loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- trouble maintaining relationships with family and friends
- trouble performing at work or school
Like other addictions, alcohol addiction is a serious disease that requires professional treatment.
If you or someone you love struggles with alcohol consumption, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center. Our board-certified health care providers offer mental health counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and other services to help you recover from substance abuse for good.
- Alcohol Detox
- Signs Of Alcohol Addiction
- Causes Of Alcoholism
- Calculating Blood Alcohol Level
- How Long Is Alcohol In Your System?
- Types Of Alcohol
- Is Alcohol A Depressant?
- Dangers Of Drinking Alcohol Alone
- Why Alcohol Is More Dangerous Than Other Drugs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol’s Effects on the Body
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Drinking Levels Defined
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)