Is Alcohol Harming Your Health? Early Signs You Should Give Up Drinking

a shot of whiskey - featured image

Alcohol addiction often starts as a casual drink after work or during office parties. Before you realize it, you may not find a drink or two enough. You crave more and may even end up dealing with full-blown alcoholism. 

A recent survey by Gallup shows that 63% of Americans over 18 years said they drank alcohol over the past two years. That means 6 out of 10 people are at risk of addiction. 

It is crucial to recognize when recreational alcohol consumption transitions to a potential threat to your well-being. A pattern of excessive and regular drinking may lead to several health problems, many of which are not immediately apparent. Being vigilant about the early signs and quitting drinking is your best defense against alcohol-related health issues. 

Before digging deep into the warning signs of addiction, you must understand how it can harm your health. In this article, we will shed light on the potential damage entailed by alcohol abuse.

How Excessive Alcohol Can Harm Your Health

A New York Times article states that the smallest amount of alcohol can be detrimental to health. This means you are at risk even if you enjoy a couple of drinks every week or on some occasion. Excessive drinking is even more harmful. CDC lists the following short-term and long-term risks stemming from alcohol abuse:

Short-Term Risks

Binge drinking may have immediate dire implications. You may lose control and face potential harm due to excess intake of alcohol. 

The short-term risks include:

  • Alcohol poisoning as a result of high blood alcohol levels
  • Violence and self-harm risks, including homicide, sexual assault and suicide
  • Severe injuries due to vehicle crashes, falls, burns and drownings
  • Risky sexual behaviors that may lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancy
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), miscarriage and stillbirth during pregnancy

Long-Term Risks

Prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol has more severe consequences. It can lead to the following health risks:

  • Alcohol dependence, abuse, or disorders
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • High blood pressure, digestive problems, stroke, heart disease and liver disease
  • Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, voice box, breast, liver, colon and rectum
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression
  • Learning and memory-related challenges like poor school performance, low productivity, and dementia

Considering these risks, you will surely want to know how to stop drinking before it damages your physical and mental health. You may face social problems that affect your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

According to the Canadian Centre for Addictions, alcohol abuse disorder is a complicated problem. There are no shortcuts to quitting, but expert guidance and the right amount of commitment can set you on the right track. Before that, you must recognize the red flags of potential harm and act quickly. 

4 Early Signs You Should Quit Drinking

The timelines of alcohol abuse disorder vary for people. You may develop it in a few weeks, months, or even years. But the early signs may start surfacing well before things get out of hand. Here are the ones you should pay attention to.

Sign #1: Physical and Mental Health Issues 

The earliest red flags of alcohol abuse are visible in the form of health issues. You may not get heart disease or cancer right away, but the risk grows over the years of persistent abuse. However, you may experience short-term effects such as weaker immunity, appetite fluctuations, and unexplained weight gain or loss. 

Watch out for mental health implications such as anxiety, depression, and memory lapses. While these symptoms may not surface early, you may encounter increased irritability, frequent mood swings, or feelings of hopelessness. 

Sign #2: Uncontrolled Drinking Patterns

Loss of control is probably the first indication of an impending problem. The path to addiction entails different stages of alcoholism, such as:

  • Occasional binge drinking and abuse
  • Increased drinking
  • Problem drinking
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Addiction and alcoholism

Consider this roadmap to assess your relationship with drinking. If you think you are consistently increasing your alcohol intake, indulging in frequent episodes of binge drinking, or struggling to stop after starting, you are in trouble. 

Sign #3: Tolerance and Withdrawal Symptoms

Regular alcohol intake can lead to tolerance. Research suggests that higher levels of drinking can lower sensitivity to alcohol, resulting in the development of tolerance. In simple words, you need more alcohol to reach the same level of intoxication. 

If you feel that way, you may soon develop addiction and face dire health outcomes. 

Additionally, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, sweating, and tremors when you try to abstain. These are indications of physical dependence because your body is no longer able to cope with the outcomes of abstinence.

Sign #4: Relationship Problems

Another red flag you should be aware of is the impact of drinking on your personal life. Alcohol abuse may affect your relationship with your spouse or romantic partner, family members, or friends. You may lose control and patience and even stop doing your bit for others. Aggression, arguments, and emotional distance can affect your bond with loved ones and destroy them.

Get ready to quit drinking if your relationships go through a turbulent phase due to addiction. Broken relationships are a huge price to pay for addiction. Moreover, you may never recover if you are isolated from the people who matter the most. The sooner you get hold of your drinking problem, the better for your personal life.

The Bottom Line

Acknowledging that alcohol abuse may harm your health and relationships is the first step toward regaining normalcy. However, most people dealing with substance abuse fail to take the first step. You should start by looking for these early signs and accepting them as warnings to start working on your problem.

Another mistake you should avoid is trying to find your way back alone. Do not hesitate to seek professional assistance because it gives you a head start with addiction recovery. Treatment, guidance, and group support ensure fast, effective, and sustainable results that open the doors to an alcohol-free life. 

Last Updated on November 10, 2023

Health Listed is committed to providing the latest and greatest health information to our loyal readers. Whether you want to learn more about nutrition, fitness, or anything else health-related, we cover it all!