- Written by Paul Turner
Alcohol is a dangerous substance. If it had been discovered recently, rather than hundreds of years ago, it would probably be given Class A Drug status due to its effect on health and behaviour.
While many people are able to drink in a controlled manner and suffer no long term ill effects, there are a few people who find themselves in difficulty because their drinking creeps up to risky levels. Some people use alcohol for reasons other than purely social, including using it to bury emotional or physical pain. It is at this point, when alcohol consumption has grown to a level which places the drinker at risk, that action needs to be taken.
It is unfortunate, and unfair, that some people get into difficulty with alcohol much easier than others. While this is something that is nobody's fault, the solution is always in a person's own hands. Much like a diabetic has to change their lifestyle to keep their blood sugar under control, a person with an alcohol problem has to recognise the condition and deal with it accordingly. It is not always simple to do this as, by this point, there may be a physical dependence on alcohol which means that it can be extremely dangerous to stop drinking without medical help in the form of an alcohol detox.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause fatigue, depression, weight gain, poor sleep patterns, sexual problems and later, as the problem worsens, can cause potentially fatal illnesses such as heart disease, liver damage and damage to other organs like the kidneys, pancreas and brain. Blood pressure can rise to dangerous levels putting you at risk of a stroke and the risk of cancer of the mouth, neck, throat and breast is increased.
As well as these physical risks, as alcohol has an effect on behaviour, you are likely to suffer problems with relationships, lose your job, get into serious debt or get into difficulty with the law. At the extreme end of the scale, there are people who have become homeless or ended up in prison simply because their drinking got out of control.