You may have heard that light to moderate drinking can be good for the heart. However, with heavy drinking – including binge drinking – any potential benefits are outweighed by greater risks.
Drinking too much increases your chances of being injured or even killed. For example, it is estimated that alcohol is a factor in:
- 60% of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides
- 50% of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults
- 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, fire deaths and fatal falls
- Heavy drinkers have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, stroke, bleeding from the stomach, sexually transmitted infections from unsafe sex, and several types of cancer.
- They also have greater difficulty managing their weight, diabetes, blood pressure, and other conditions.
- Alcohol increases the number of times you awaken in the later half of the night, preventing REM sleep and contributing to daytime fatigue.
- Alcohol is a common factor in poor sexual performance.
- The introduction of alcohol to a developing teenage brain can lead to permanently-reduced brain function.
- Occupational risks include workplace accident and injury, suspension and termination.
- Excessive use of alcohol contributes to financial and legal difficulties, divorce and child custody issues, unwanted pregnancy, and loss of employment.
- The incidence of aggression and violent crime is higher among people who drink heavily.
- Drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby.
- Child abuse and neglect resulting from an impaired parent is a leading cause of children being removed from the home.
- Parental drinking behavior can decisively shape a child’s view of alcohol use, even at the earliest ages. Genetic factors aside, children who grow up in environments where alcohol is a problem are more likely to develop a problem with alcohol in life.
Alcohol use disorders
- Generally known as alcoholism and alcohol abuse, alcohol use disorders are medical conditions that doctors can diagnose when a patient's drinking causes severe distress or harm. In the United States, about 18 million people have an alcohol use disorder.