Benefits and Risks of Drinking Alcohol

Benefits and Risks of Drinking AlcoholThose affected by alcoholism might find it hard to believe there are some health benefits to drinking, but science has discovered ways in which it can help. At the same time, alcohol advocates are often too quick to tout these benefits without citing the caveats and risks. Research is ongoing, but so far the findings show both benefits and risks depending on the individual.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

According to the US government, moderate drinking is defined as the following:

  • One drink per day for women
  • One drink per day for people over 60
  • Two drinks per day for men (but…)
  • Never more than one drink per hour

The health benefits are not uniform across all forms of alcohol. For example, red wine tends to have the most benefits, thanks in part to higher antioxidant properties like resveratrol. Nevertheless, studies have found that moderate consumption can:

  • Reduce psychological stress and elevate euphoria
  • Help protect against dementia and type 2 diabetes
  • Increase appetite (which can help the elderly)
  • Decrease the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke
  • Red wine reduces the risk of Barrett’s esophagus and cataracts
  • Beer can strengthen bones and lower blood pressure

In 2005, the US Department of Agriculture looked at several studies and concluded that moderate consumption can decrease the risk of several diseases and lead to a longer life. Generally speaking, moderate use can have positive effects for individuals without a family history of alcoholism or cancer, particularly for those with heart and cholesterol issues.

Health Risks of Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can have positive health effects, but the risks are also substantial even in moderation. They include the following:

  • Dangerous interactions with medication, including non-prescription drugs
  • Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE), birth defects and low birth rates
  • Increased risk of breast, liver, rectum, throat, esophagus and mouth cancer in women
  • Heart muscle damage and weight gain

Moreover, excessive drinking can be extremely hazardous. It can cause the following:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Stroke and heart rhythm disturbances
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Indirect dangers like drunk driving or home accidents
  • Alcohol addiction

The latter risk, alcoholism, is arguably the biggest threat of all since it can damage every area of a person’s life. It can spark domestic violence, physical health decline, and emotional distress. Extreme use can lead to a lethal alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol Addiction Help

There is no upside to excessive alcohol consumption, only health risks. For this reason, people struggling with alcohol abuse should seek professional help immediately. Proper treatment typically includes the following:

  • Medically supervised detox in a comfortable environment
  • Mental health screenings for depression, anxiety and other co-occurring disorders
  • Physical health screenings for alcohol-related organ damage
  • Behavioral tools to improve life skills and eliminate unhealthy habits
  • Holistic options like nutrition, yoga, medication, and hypnosis
  • Peer group therapy for emotional support and expression
  • Ongoing aftercare counseling to monitor the recovery

Alcohol addiction is a neurological disease with strong genetic ties, so it is not a sign of weakness to need help. Rather, it is a sign of weakness if a person knows there is a problem and refuses to get help.

Help with Alcohol Abuse

If you are drinking alcohol in excess and might have a problem, we can help. Our caring staff is available 24 hours a day on our toll-free helpline. We can answer questions about addiction warning signs, possible health issues, and treatment options. We can also check health insurance policies for coverage. We are here to help, so call today.