Whenever anyone has a problem with overuse of food, beverage, drug, alcohol, and anything, it is not a good thing, and the person must realize that there may be a problem.
In this article, we are talking about the over-consumption of alcohol. There is nothing wrong with a glass of red wine every day. Research finds that this routine is beneficial to your heart's health. I read that as an additional added note, add to your daily six-ounces of Red Wine one small square of dark chocolate. Both of these have an immense health benefit to the body.
If you consume many glasses of red wine per day and cannot seem to do without this beverage daily, there is a problem. While one glass of red wine is a good thing, many drinks or excessive consumption of red wine turn a good thing into a not so good thing. This scenario pertains to anything in life.
Please refer to my previous article on "Red Wine."
If you cannot do without many alcoholic drinks per day, this can lead to physical and mental harm. Some of the side effects are impaired social interactions and irreversible damage to your vital organs. However, this damage cannot be seen by the human eye until death occurs, and if the doctor does an autopsy on your body. I will touch a bit later on how my eyes were opened when I was instructed in nurse's training to view my first autopsy.
Over-consumption of alcohol can bring about some side effect that you do see. Seeing these side effects many times is not enough to convince you that you, indeed, have a problem. You must realize you have a problem before you can seek intervention.
Are you a weekend social drinker?
Binge Drinking: Weekend drinking is busy.
You do not consider yourself an alcoholic because, after all, you do not touch alcohol during the week, just on the weekends. It is the weekends you look forward to, and you go overboard in consuming alcoholic beverages, and even this you may not see you are at risk for a problem.
You may not realize it, but there are many brands of energy drinks on the market. A few energy drinks contain caffeine; some include alcohol and other stimulants. These energy drinks containing alcohol are highly prevalent and many people drink these on a regular basis.
Obesity in America
Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion, and it is of my nurse's and yet lay opinion that, while alcohol is the most addictive substance in the United States, I would beg to differ.
While liquor sits high on the ladder of the most addictive elements, I believe that food is the most addictive substance, as seen by the widespread addiction of food and the over-consumption of the wrong foods across the United States, causing our Obesity Epidemic we see today. I think that an eating addiction sits above alcohol addiction and is just as damaging to one's vital human organs.
Alcohol sits high on the addiction ladder.
It is a fact.
Researchers say that alcohol is the most used addictive substance in the United States.
I agree that alcohol addiction is real and sits high on the addiction ladder.
The Link Between Alcoholism and Disease
Even if you do not consume alcohol, you are at risk for any disease process due to a lifestyle that may be detrimental to your health. A few of these disease processes may be due in part to your genes or family history. There are well over 20 diseases linked to alcoholism. A few of the these are listed below.
- Heart Disease
- Liver Disease
- Pancreatic Disease
- Mouth Cancer and over ten other types of cancers
- Intestinal problems such as IBS
OK, I can hear you say, "I am not an alcoholic. I am a social drinker, and I only drink on the weekends with friends. I can control what I drink."
Whether you know it or not, just a little bit of alcohol sometimes can cause unwanted side effects. There is not enough room in this article to mention all adverse side effects from drinking just a bit of alcohol, sometimes or "only" on the weekends. Side effects can include,
- Slowed reaction times
- Balance problems
- Memory Loss
Denial, while a side effect of overconsumption of anything, protects your ability to continue with over-consumption. This denial can lead to health problems that are irreversible, and short and long-term health issues.
Alcoholism can bring about mental health issues such as negative and violent behaviors, causing harm to this person and others stemming from over-consumption of drinking, including motor vehicle accidents.
If you drink only on the weekends or binge drink, this can raise your blood alcohol levels and put you at risk for adverse physical and vocal behaviors you did not intend happening.
What is the standard for a blood alcohol level?
Most states consider 0.08 or higher as being legally intoxicated. Medical researchers say that it is at this blood alcohol level that side effects arise.
Research also says that if your blood alcohol level is 0.09 percent, you may begin to experience any side effects such as,
- Slurred Speech
- Balance Impairments
- Hearing Deficits
- Memory Problems
- Impaired Reactions
- Vision Deficits
Researchers find that the person experiencing these side effects does not see a problem. You cannot understand what others around you see.
By the time your blood alcohol reaches a 0.125 level and above, you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally wonderful. It is at this level that your impairments are very evident with those around you.
Medical research reports that when your blood alcohol reaches a 0.15 level and above, you begin to feel less joyful. You may experience more anxiety and restlessness. Your inability to balance yourself and coordinate your movements are self-evident. At this blood alcohol level, you see a marked loss of vision.
Research goes on to say that if your blood alcohol reaches a level of 0.25-0.3 or above, you are at high risk of death. Your impairments are so significant that,
- You are likely to choke on your vomit.
- You are at significant risk for a deadly vehicle accident. Never put yourself and others to risk for death due to over drinking alcohol.
- You are at risk of falling that causes you a serious accident or death.
- You can become unconscious
- You can enter into a stupor
- You can go into a coma leading to death
Unseen Health Problems
If I cannot see it, is it not a problem?
Maybe you have heard the old saying, "Out of sight, out of mind." This saying is never more accurate for the alcoholic. Even though you cannot see the inside of your body, you can experience the side effects of alcoholism.
Alcohol affects vital organs like your heart, liver, pancreas, stomach, and the intestinal tract. Even though you cannot physically see the damage, you will experience the side effect of this damage.
You understand that you may develop health issues such as heart disease, liver, and pancreatic problems, and not drink a drop of alcohol. Know that drinking alcohol raises your risk significantly for developing these issues.
My Personal Story
During my nurse's training, I took care of a man admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for nonstop hiccups. This man's doctor and associates could not understand this gentleman's dilemma. These doctors ordered a lot of different testing which came back negative. At last thought, the doctor ordered an EGG.
An EGG test calls for a long, flexible tube gently guided down the patient's throat through the mouth. The patient is in a twilight sleep. This tube has a light on the end, and as the tube goes through the esophagus and enters the upper part of the stomach, the doctor can view any problems.
The doctor found this man to have diverticulitis of the esophagus. This condition is where fragile pockets develop along the esophagus. These pockets can rupture if grossly irritated. Diverticulitis of the esophagus caused this patient's nonstop hiccup. This condition was minor compared to what was going on in his body; unseen factors.
I took care of this patient all week and got to know him and like him. He reminded me of my grandfather, and I looked forward to seeing him each morning. I had a week off, and when I got back to work, looking forward to taking care of this gentleman, a nursing student stopped me on the way to his room and said, "You are to report to the morgue now to view an autopsy." I had heard of an autopsy, but I had never seen an autopsy in progress. Boy, my eyes opened wide.
I turned around and went to the morgue. As I stepped into the autopsy room, other nursing students were standing around the deceased patient. As I took my place, I immediately saw that this was my gentleman patient, who had passed away the day before I returned to work. Seeing my patient like this put a lump in my throat and a sick feeling in my stomach. I could not even say goodbye.
This autopsy, my first, was difficult to view on anyone, but especially a person I knew. This man was a chain smoker and liked his alcohol. This man experienced years of smoking and alcohol abuse, and it showed in his vital organs.
If you do not know what an autopsy is, I did not, it opens your eyes up wide for what kind of an impact on abuse of anything good or bad plays on your vital organs.
Autopsy in a Nutshell
As the person lies on the cold steel table, an anvil supports the head.
- The doctor cuts a large V into the chest of the patient, starting at a point at just below the chin. The incision widens to just above the pelvic area and goes back up the body on the other side, ending at the throat.
- This large section of skin is turned back starting at the bottom.
- The doctor then clips all of the ribs to view and cut out each vital organ.
- As each organ is cut out, the doctor immediately weighs the organ on a scale.
- The Doctor dissects each organ to view any disease processes. Frequently, the doctor sends samples to the laboratory for further investigation under a microscope.
There is a lot more to an autopsy. However, I will stop here and describe what alcohol did to this man's liver and pancreas.
These organs, no matter what the age of the patient, should be a delicate, healthy, pink color, not a drab gray. These organs should have been soft and pliable. Instead, these organs were as hard as any stone you would pick up on the street.
**This article is not about the side effects of smoking, but I have to add that this patient's lungs were in the same condition as the liver and pancreas; drab gray and hard in texture caused by his years of smoking. When you smoke, and you inhale smoke, you are gradually grilling your lung tissue. What goes into the lungs never comes out. This side effect of smoking is irrevocable.
As the doctor dissected these organs, he had great difficulty. If you can imagine using a saw to cut through a small rock.
Even if my patient was fortunate enough to find a cure for his nagging daily hiccups, he had sealed his fate years before with his inability to quit alcohol and smoking, causing his heart to fail, finally causing his death.
If your doctor diagnoses you with a common medical condition like irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and a few more serious conditions such as heart and kidney conditions, you must realize that alcohol can make these conditions, already present, much worse.
Have you ever experienced some minor issues such as an itchy nose, nasal congestion, a fine skin rash after drinking alcohol? You probably have an allergy to alcohol. Talk to your doctor to be sure.
The best way to avoid unwanted side effects from alcohol consumption is to avoid alcohol altogether.
Over 40-years of nursing experience