There’s no disputing that alcohol has a prevalent role in our society. From widespread availability to being a staple at many social events, alcoholic drinks are never very far away, but could they be the root cause of larger problems in our lives?
In this ongoing series, we’ll take a look at how alcohol can impact your life, your health, and ultimately, your marriage.
Excessive drinking can become a habit in many ways. For some, it’s simply an unchecked social behavior that gets out of hand – what starts as relatively harmless, casual drinking can become more and more frequent, and because of a growing tolerance, more and more alcohol is consumed to achieve the same effect. This kind of social drinking can be particularly problematic because it’s generally reinforced by peers, and pushed aside as “not a big deal.”
For others, alcohol can be a way of escaping or self-medicating. It can be used to avoid thinking about something painful, a way of neglecting responsibility, or just a method of escaping fears or frustrations. The largest problem here is that it can be impulsive and self-destructive, and sets a precedent for abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Now, the “reasons” for excessive alcohol consumption can be very broad, and regardless of the motivation, the negative effects eventually catch up with heavy drinkers of all kinds. But what are these downsides?
First, drinking has an effect on your moods and thought processes, even when you’re not intoxicated. Drinking can make you tired and irritable, shorten your temper, and make it difficult to concentrate. While under the influence, some people experience wild mood swings or make irrational decisions.
When decision-making is impaired, people engage in much riskier behavior – which can lead to drunk driving, criminal charges, or personal injury. Such risks endanger lives, and could lead to job loss, jail time, and tremendous financial burden.
Even beyond all of these potential problems, drinking increases the risk of heart disease, causes people to gain weight, and damages the immune system. Long-term heavy drinking leads to all kinds of gastrointestinal problems as well, including liver failure and pancreatitis.
Studies show that cancer risk is increased with large amounts of alcohol consumption, and the physical damage alcohol abuse does to the brain can lead to psychiatric problems like depression and anxiety.
Unfortunately, almost all of this information is pretty common knowledge, and the people at risk just assume that it won’t happen to them (or fail to recognize when it’s already happening).
We urge you to examine your own habits, as well as the habits of those around you, and look for some tell tale signs that maybe you (or people you care about) are drinking too much. You can also evaluate the stress factors in your day-to-day life, and see if alcohol is playing a role in the problems you deal with regularly – you just might be surprised!
Next time, we’ll look directly at how alcohol use and abuse can affect relationships, and the damage it can cause in a marriage.