Alcohol Really Is a Drug
Alcohol is legal and it is a big part of most people’s social life, especially here in the UK where being able to “hold your drink” is considered a good thing. Most weekends don’t go by without at least one big night out. For that reason, it is not always thought of as “that bad” or “really a drug.”
Alcohol, though, is a drug, and it is important to realise that, and understand the facts so that you can then limit your drinking to a responsible level and not end up trapped in dependency.
Alcohol is classed as a depressant. Meaning that it slows down vital functions. That is why when you drink a lot you can end up with slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and a slow reaction time. Mentally it also impairs your ability to think rationally and make good judgements.
The amount of alcohol that you drink determines the reaction that you will get, one beer or a glass of wine will not usually have a depressing effect but will stimulate you. The next level is the depressant affect. If even more is consumed, then you get into dangerous health areas such as vomiting, unconsciousness, coma or even death.
Statistically more than 9 million people in England drink over the recommended daily limits. In fact, in the UK in 2014 there were 8,697 alcohol-related deaths! Alcohol makes up 10% of the UK’s problems of disease and death, and is one of the three biggest lifestyle risks we have, along with smoking and obesity.
For that reason, it is very important to understand fully that alcohol is a drug and how it effects the body.
Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream via small blood vessels in the walls of the stomach and small intestine. Within minutes of drinking alcohol, it travels from the stomach to the brain where it quickly starts to slow the actions of the nerve cells.
Alcohol is also carried by the blood stream to the liver. The liver’s job is to remove the alcohol from the body, by converting it into a non-toxic substance by metabolizing it. The problem is the liver can only metabolize so much at a time. Which means when you consume a high amount, a lot of alcohol is left circulating in the blood stream. This specifically is why the quantity of alcohol you drink in a certain period of time directly effects your reaction to it.
When the amount of alcohol in your blood exceeds a certain amount, the depressing effects start to take their toll and the breathing system slows right down, meaning not much oxygen is reaching the brain which is what can lead to coma or death.
Some of the short term and more well-known effects of alcohol are slurred speech, drowsiness, vomiting, headaches, distorted vision and unconsciousness but there are other more drastic short term effects such as breathing difficulties, anaemia, blackouts and coma.
When you continue to binge drink over a longer period of time, there are other much longer term effects. Alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, stroke, heart problems, liver disease, nerve damage, sexual problems, brain damage, ulcers and even cancer of the throat.
Other ways alcohol can affect your life is through accidents, or work and relationship losses. While consuming a large amount of alcohol you are more at risk to accidents and injuries whether intentional or not. Such things as car accidents, drowning, falls and burns are not uncommon. It can affect your productivity at work, cause you to make mistakes or even cause on the job injuries. Lastly is the effect on your family life. As you become more and more dependent, relationships will start to fall further and further away.
Think before you drink and if you feel you don’t have the ability to stop drinking, get help.