The Truth about Alcohol

All alcohol use impacts health, healthcare costs, and the economy. It’s not just about impaired driving or the disease of alcoholism anymore. The dialogue on this drug is changing from what it does for the drinker, to what it does to the drinker.

People drink to socialise, celebrate, and relax. Alcohol often has a strong effect on people—and throughout history, people have struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power. Why does alcohol cause people to act and feel differently? How much is too much? Why do some people become addicted while others do not?

 

While drinking alcohol is itself not necessarily a problem—drinking too much can cause a range of consequences, and increase your risk for a variety of problems. Did you know that drinking too much can harm your health? Excessive alcohol use, including underage drinking and binge drinking, can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver disease, and cancer.  There are some people who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:

  • Younger than age 21.

  • Pregnant or may be pregnant.

  • Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.

  • Taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.

  • Suffering from certain medical conditions.

  • Recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink.

 

Short-Term Health Risks

 

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns

  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence

  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels

  • Risky sexual behaviours, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviours can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV

  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.

 

Long-Term Health Risks

 

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems

  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, and colon

  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance

  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety

  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment

  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism

 

By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

Alcoholism has little to do with what kind of alcohol one drinks, how long one has been drinking, or even exactly how much alcohol one consumes. But it has a great deal to do with a person's uncontrollable need for alcohol.  Most alcoholics can't just "use a little willpower" to stop drinking.  The alcoholic is frequently in the grip of a powerful craving for alcohol, a need that can feel as strong as the need for food or water.  While some people are able to recover without help, the majority of alcoholics need outside assistance to recover from their disease.  Yet, with support and treatment, many are able to stop drinking and reclaim their lives.

For more information, community resources, presentations and other valuable info, contact Malachite House at 082 748 0655

Why not join people all over the world and get involved!  For one weekend, avoid all alcohol.  5 reasons why it’s a great idea:

  • Demonstrate healthy behaviour for our children

  • Discover alternative activities for the weekend that don’t involve drinking alcohol

  • Find out the health benefits of not drinking, for yourself

  • A weekend detox will do you good!

  • Throw a dinner party – have a braai and focus on cooking a delicious meal without drinking

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Contact Marius Swart - 082 748 0655