Many adults in the United States report being moderate or social drinkers. While this doesn’t have the same negative connotation as heavy drinkers, there are still health risks to be aware of. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), moderate drinking is defined as having no more than two drinks a day for men, and one drink a day for women.
If you’re drinking more than this, it’s not a definitive sign that you have an alcohol use disorder. But it can mean that you are doing more harm to your body than you realize. Even moderate drinking can pose a number of health problems such as inflammation, increased blood pressure, and damage to the heart muscle.
Let’s look at the short- and long-term effects of drinking alcohol on a daily basis.
Drinking and Driving
Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous activities associated with alcohol. And, it’s often easier to do than people realize. For example, if you meet your friends for a few cocktails, who normally does the driving? If it’s you or your drinking buddy, you’re at risk for alcohol-related motor crashes and fatalities.
Alcohol Dependence and Addiction
Alcohol use disorders have to start somewhere, and for some people, that’s with moderate drinking. While not everyone who drinks alcohol will go on to develop an addiction, a sizable amount do. These struggles generally develop over time, so you may not realize that you’re forming an unhealthy habit.
One of the most important questions to ask yourself is why are you drinking every day? Is it to relieve stress? Escape reality? Numb your emotions? By understanding your motivations for drinking, you can identify the underlying problem and seek appropriate help.
Mental Health Problems
Not only can alcohol lead to dependency, but also it can create or worsen mental health problems. It’s difficult to maintain a healthy, positive outlook on life when you’re abusing alcohol. Instead, people often end up showing antisocial behaviors, anxiety, depression, cravings, and sleep problems.
If you are struggling with both an alcohol use disorder and a mental health disorder, you can benefit from dual diagnosis rehab. This type of treatment addresses both conditions simultaneously so that you can heal and sustain long-term recovery.
Drinking alcohol on a daily basis can irritate the gastrointestinal tract – the first stop alcohol makes in the body. Alcohol is an irritant to your GI tract, causing inflammation, swelling, and redness. Even just a little bit of alcohol causes your stomach to produce more acid than usual. If you already suffer from acid reflux, you can expect these symptoms to worsen as well.
Reduced Organ Function
Problems with the kidneys, heart, and liver usually don’t come until later on, but this varies among individuals. When you drink alcohol daily, the heart, kidneys, and liver have to work harder to do their jobs. Even if you’re not a heavy drinker, consuming regular alcohol takes a toll on these functions, increasing blood pressure, reducing kidney function, and scarring liver tissue.
Worried About Your Drinking? Outpatient Rehab Can Help.
If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, or the drinking habits of someone else, the first step is to reach out to a health professional. Awakenings Treatment Center offers various levels of care based on the severity of your drinking problem. Between our intensive outpatient and standard outpatient programs, you can find appropriate treatment in a safe, supportive setting. Contact us today to learn more.