Alcohol Addiction Health Risk Factors

Alcohol addiction can lead to a variety of health issues. Learn about the dangers of alcohol abuse here. 

Alcohol addiction

Table of Contents

How Much Alcohol is too Much?

Alcohol addiction affects both young and older adults as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Constant intake of alcohol creates physical dependence, which eventually results in severe withdrawal symptoms.1 Someone may feel various physical, psychological, and social effects due to alcohol addiction. Examples include domestic violence, loss of job, and weight gain.

When determining the appropriate amount of alcohol to consume, it is important to keep track using units. In a unit of alcohol, individuals get 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. Note that 10ml is the average alcohol that an adult body can process in an hour. 

A Breakdown of Units

Individuals must understand their limits to avoid certain alcohol risks. Here’s a breakdown based on the different units:

  • One to two units: These types include 25ml – 50ml of spirits and brandy containing 40% alcohol. Pregnant women should abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can pass from a mother’s bloodstream into the baby and affect the growth of the baby’s cells. If they decide to drink, they mustn’t take more than one to two units once or twice a week.
  • Four to six units: For beer, lager, and cider, four to six units of alcohol signify a liter of 4 – 6% alcohol. For men, it is inadvisable to drink above four units of alcohol every day to reduce the risk factors of addiction.
  • Eight to nine units: A liter of super-strength beer, lager, and cider containing 9% of alcohol measures as nine units of alcohol. Consuming eight to nine units of alcohol every day may result in severe alcohol abuse.
  • Ten to twelve units: A bottle (750ml) of wine & champagne with ABV % of 13.5% to 14% contains 10.1 to 10.5 units of alcohol. Regular intake of ten to twelve units of alcohol is relatively damaging to an individual’s health. Hence, it is advisable to avoid such amounts.
  • More than twelve units: Consuming over twelve units of alcohol per day is highly unhealthy and can cause various health damages. It’s advised to keep the number of units lower than fourteen units per week in a three or more days stretch. 

Dangers of Mixing Alcohol with Other Drugs

There’s a high tendency for individuals experiencing alcohol addiction to mix the substance with other drugs. Due to the nature of alcohol, it impacts various parts of the body and may also react negatively to other substances. Here’s a breakdown of the different substances that individuals may mix with alcohol and how they react: 

Adderall

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant for the treatment of mental health conditions like ADHD. Due to its highly potent stimulant, this substance can be dangerous when used without a licensed doctor’s prescription. Note that drinking alcohol produces a different effect compared to using a stimulant.2

Most stimulants like Adderall increase the availability of excitatory neurotransmitters responsible for improving alertness, focus, and activity. Alcohol as a central nervous system depressant inhibits the function of certain neurotransmitters. As an ADHD medication, taking Adderall alongside alcohol reduces the effectiveness of the drug. 

Antibiotics

Different antibiotics have their unique interactions with alcohol. Hence, it is imperative to speak to a licensed physician before taking certain types of antibiotics. One of the most significant risk factors for alcoholism alongside antibiotics is liver damage. Other possible reactions include vomiting, tiredness, dizziness, and increased heart rate. 

Antidepressants

Using antidepressants with alcohol causes a significant level of intoxication. Alcohol in the bloodstream tends to negate the effects of antidepressants. Hence, it reduces the effectiveness of the treatment prescribed by a doctor. Mixing alcohol with antidepressants may also result in extreme and unexpected emotions. 

Antihistamines

It is highly advisable to avoid drinking alcohol while taking antihistamines for treating allergies. Individuals may experience severe episodes of confusion and poor decision-making after mixing both substances. Some may also experience certain risk factors for substance abuse leading to drowsiness. 

Cocaine

The mixture of cocaine and alcohol in the bloodstream forms Cocaethylene. Note that Cocaethylene is responsible for the highest level of cardiovascular activity of any substance. For this reason, individuals may experience an increased level of stress or pressure on the heart which may lead to cardiac arrest and loss of life.

Energy Drinks or Caffeine

Individuals who consume energy drinks and caffeine may think their bodies are less intoxicated and tired. Hence, there is a high tendency to increase the intake of alcohol. Individuals who take caffeine are more than twice likely to sustain injuries or require medical attention due to their intoxication levels. 

Ecstasy

Consuming alcohol with ecstasy reduces the euphoric feeling of the drug. It also strains the kidney when individuals consume both substances. Individuals who take ecstasy alongside alcohol tend to feel dangerous levels of dehydration. Since both ecstasy and alcohol also lower inhibitions, there is an increase in effect when consumed together. 

Legal and Illegal Opioids

The mixture of legal and illegal opioids like heroin, fentanyl, and others with alcohol magnifies their depressive effects. Without sufficient oxygen, the brain may start to shut down organ systems and the individual may experience severe liver damage. 

Marijuana

Some of the effects that marijuana causes when mixed with alcohol include dizziness, intoxication, vomiting, and paranoia. When individuals consume both substances, they tend to feel dizzy, numb, and lose track of time. Other common effects of mixing both substances include changes in emotional behavior, memory loss, and compromised judgment. 

Hallucinogens

Mixing alcohol with hallucinogens may cause highly severe side effects like vomiting, nausea, and other gastrointestinal effects. Some individuals who combine both substances may also experience severe depression, which could lead to suicidal thoughts. 

Meth

Combining meth with alcohol results in high levels of pressure on the heart and increases the individual’s blood pressure. Some of the common symptoms include violent behavior and sexual promiscuity causing significant hangovers and kidney damage with time. 

What are the Short-term Risks of Drinking Alcohol?

The short-term alcohol risks typically depend on the quantity and individual consumption. Here are the significant short-term alcohol risks to know: 

Digestive Issues

Drinking alcohol, even in low quantities, makes the stomach produce more acid than normal. Over time, it may result in the inflammation of the stomach lining, also known as gastritis. The inflammation causes conditions like stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding in heavy drinkers. 

Decreased Coordination

Consumption of alcohol inhibits the brain and body’s communication, which results in decreased coordination. Its loss of coordination is due to its effects on the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Individuals experiencing decreased coordination may also observe other symptoms like slurred speech and reduced inhibition. 

Blackouts

Most people may experience blackouts at blood alcohol concentrations of 0.16 and higher. At those BACs, the body experiences impaired cognitive abilities. However, the level of impairment that occurs at high BACs makes the intoxication level linked to these blackouts highly dangerous.

Malnutrition

Excessive consumption of alcohol has significant effects on the nutritional resources in the body. It can easily satisfy the body’s caloric requirements but easily results in malnutrition and anemia. One major way alcohol consumption affects body nutrition is by displacing healthier meals from an individual’s diet. 

What are the Long-term Risks of Drinking Alcohol?

Binge drinking and increased alcohol intake have various long-term alcohol risks. Here are the different alcohol risks to note: 

Health Problems

Some risks of drinking alcohol include high blood pressure, digestive problems, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease. Regular consumption of alcohol also tends to weaken the immune system and increase an individual’s chances of getting sick. 

Relationship Issues

Studies prove that alcohol is linked to codependency, verbal, and physical abuse in relationships. Most relationship issues are due to constant arguments or financial trouble due to alcohol use disorder. 

Domestic Violence

Alcohol intake is one of the compounding factors that may trigger domestic violence between partners. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 55% of domestic abuse perpetrators were consuming alcohol before the assault. 

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning has certain signs and symptoms including confusion, seizures, vomiting, slow breathing, and a low body temperature (hypothermia). When signs of alcohol poisoning are observed, it is imperative to seek immediate medical help. 

What are the Risk Factors for Alcohol-Related Health Complications?

Individuals may develop various health conditions from alcohol use. Here are some of the common risk factors for alcoholism to note:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Infertility 

What to Do When Alcohol Affects your Health?

When the symptoms of alcohol intake affect one’s health, there are imperative steps to take. Here are some of the significant options to consider:

  • Addiction treatment: Some of the major treatment options for alcohol addiction include detox, therapy, and the use of medications.
  • Support groups: These groups help those experiencing alcohol abuse to recover, avoid relapses, and deal with the challenges of getting sober. One of the major groups that focus on helping people who are experiencing alcohol addiction is Alcoholics Anonymous.5
  • Self-control: People may practice certain behavioral self-control strategies to limit the use of alcohol and risk factors for substance abuse. When practicing self-control, individuals may need to evaluate how much they drink, assess the purpose of drinking, and set reasonable limits. 

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Blueprints for Recovery

Blueprints offer significant alcohol addiction treatment options for individuals experiencing alcohol abuse. Some of these treatment options include: 

MAT

Medication-Assisted Treatment uses medications alongside counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a proper treatment approach for individuals with alcohol addiction. MAT proves to be clinically effective against the risk factors for alcoholism and significantly reduces the urge for inpatient detoxification. 

Detox

In this treatment procedure, the body removes any alcohol from its bloodstream. Note that detox takes place under medical supervision to manage the withdrawal symptoms that occur when an individual stops the intake of drugs or alcohol. 

Therapies

Some of the common therapy options for alcohol abuse include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing. 

Inpatient Care

During inpatient care, the individual remains in a controlled environment to manage alcohol addiction. Most individuals stay beyond a day in the clinic for medical and emotional support. It is essential to prepare for inpatient care before beginning. 

Outpatient Care

Compared to inpatient care, outpatient care only requires regular visits to the clinic. Most individuals may spend between ten to twelve hours a week in a local treatment center.  

Resources

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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