In many cultures worldwide alcohol is widely accepted as an ordinary practice. Many people enjoy alcoholic beverages daily, whether they are at home, out with friends, or during a work function. Some do not experience any negative consequences or become addicted to the substance.
However, others do. According to research done in the United States, in the age group of 18 and older one in five Americans were found to have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol, along with nicotine, is the most commonly used addictive substance. The effect that alcohol users get from drinking is a sedative one, seeing as alcohol is a depressant, meaning the central nervous system in the brain slows down when someone is under the influence of alcohol.
This causes users to lose their inhibitions, which is the reason why under the influence, people tend to be more social and more talkative. Alcohol causes impairment in both judgement and coordination, an impairment that could lead to dangerous consequences and behaviors, such as drunk driving. Individuals heavily under the influence of alcohol may experience an impairment in balance, unclear and slurred speech, feeling nauseous, disturbed sleep, vomiting, and in some cases people may lose consciousness. Some of the long-term effects of alcohol use include the following:
· Liver disease
· Heart disease
· Shrinking and impairment of the brain
Quitting without assistance for excessive alcohol drinkers can be dangerous. For some, even life-threatening. People suffering with an alcohol addiction can experience risky withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, shaking, fatigue, headache, increased blood pressure and heart rate, nausea or vomiting, muscle tension, flushing, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Individual’s dependent on alcohol and are attempting to quit should do so under professional supervision.
To determine whether your substance use is problematic, please refer to our Substance Use Self-Assessment here.