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How the drinks you have today can effect you down the road


Alison McGee | Interrobang | Lifestyles | October 17th, 2011



Most people are aware of the immediate effects of excessive drinking: loss of consciousness, vomiting, decreased heart rate and dealing with a brutal hangover the next day. It seems that the long-term effects of excessive drinking are far less known. Today's society subscribes to a philosophy of living in the moment, but when it comes to matters of exorbitant alcohol consumption, the future repercussions must be considered.

According to the Center for Disease Control, heavy or excessive drinking is classified as an average of more than two drinks every day for men and more than one drink every day for women. If this type of drinking behavior occurs on a continual basis, the risk develops for becoming an alcoholic: depending on and developing an addiction to consuming alcohol.

An alcoholic may suffer from not only chronic illness in the present, but also, according to the Middlesex-London Health Unit, irreparable future damage to his or her liver, throat, stomach, intestines, pancreas, heart and brain.

"(Your liver) takes the brunt of high alcohol concentrations. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to two serious types of liver injury: alcohol hepatitis and fibrosis or cirrhosis," according to the MLHU website. What this kind of damage means is that there's a real possibility of developing hormone, metabolism or immune disorders.

Your heart may also pay a hefty price for your heavy drinking. "Alcohol can cause direct or indirect damage to nervous tissues. Long-term heavy drinking is linked to brain damage and poor mental functioning," explained the MHLU website.

Many other long-term physical problems may arise from prolonged periods of excessive drinking, however liver and brain damage are the two most commonly treated problems.

Aside from the physically damaging long-term effects of alcoholism, relationships can suffer some dramatic consequences as well.

Meg (last name withheld to protect privacy) has a father who was an alcoholic for much of her childhood. "It was really hard growing up because my dad was always out drinking. He was never around at night to help me with homework, or to take me to after-school sports," Meg explained. This absence made Meg feel "neglected, like drinking was more important to him than his own family." Meg's parents separated when she was nine years old and she saw very little of him until he sought help for his addiction many years later. Now in her twenties, Meg sees more of her father. "We're trying to develop a relationship now that he's sober."

Much like Meg, Brad (last name also withheld) experienced a relationship crumble due to alcoholism. Brad's then-girlfriend Jen developed a drinking problem during college. "It started out as normal college partying. We would go to a party together, get drunk, have a wicked hangover the next day but then do it all over again in a few weekends," Brad explained. Things took a turn for the worse when Jen stared going out every night, drinking way too much and hooking up with other guys. "She was irresponsible when she was drunk," Brad said. "She cheated on me, and when I asked her to get help for her drinking problem she refused. I couldn't stay in a relationship like that, so I walked away."

So if you find yourself drinking every night, or always taking one too many, remember that there are consequences for excessive drinking. Even though you might feel young and invincible at this point in your life, sooner or later all that drinking will catch up with you, and you may wish that you had taken the always lame-sounding advice to "drink responsibly."

For more information, visit The Centre for Disease Control at cdc.gov and the Middlesex-London Health Unit at healthunit.com.
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