Alcohol is a drug. Despite its ubiquity in pop culture and the world around us, consuming alcohol comes with some inherent risk. That risk turns into imminent danger when you abuse alcohol.

Abusing alcohol has led to around 88,000 deaths each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010. Abusing alcohol is a direct threat to your current and continued health. So abusing alcohol is dangerous and unwise, but what exactly is alcohol abuse?

What is Alcohol Abuse?

Having a drink to relax is not alcohol abuse. Drinking in moderation is certainly not the best activity for your health and wellbeing, but a beer or glass of wine after work to wind down is not really going to hurt you. What causes long lasting and serious issues is alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse is actually a disease and an indication of when people can no longer control their alcohol consumption.. If drinking alcohol is getting in the way of your personal relationships, work, hobbies, safety and ability to follow the law, you may meet criteria for alcohol abuse.. If this is the case, we strongly suggest getting help because alcohol abuse poses many different short and long term health issues.

Short Term Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

1. Slurred speech

If you consume an unhealthy amount of alcohol, one of the first short term effects is slurred speech. This is the toxins in alcohol slowing down your central nervous system and brain functioning, resulting in impaired speech.

2. Vomiting

High levels of alcohol can be toxic.When too much alcohol is consumed, the brain recognizes it as a toxin/poison, and immediately tries to get rid of the alcohol/poison any way possible. In many cases, that means vomiting out the alcohol. Not only is vomiting uncomfortable and unsanitary, it also poses various health concerns in of itself. Vomiting leads to dehydration, gastrointestinal and oral issues, and the possibility of choking on the vomit if asleep.

3. Diarrhea

Similar to vomiting, after alcohol abuse the body will try to get rid of the toxins by any means necessary. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and malnutrition.

4. Headaches

Alcohol abuse can often times lead to headaches. The toxins in alcohol dehydrates the brain and causes a loss of essential vitamins and nutrients. This deficiency surfaces as a painful headache that can be difficult to get rid of.

5. Breathing Difficulties

Alcohol is a depressant. It slows down your body's vital functions, including your brain, heart and lungs. This can surface with difficulty breathing. You can find your breathing to be slow and ragged, leading to losing your breath easily and possibly heart palpitations.

6. Impaired Judgment

One of the core dangers of alcohol abuse is impaired judgement. Drinking copious amounts of alcohol can lead you to do and say things you normally would never dream of, leading to possible issues with friends, family, loved ones, and your job.

7. Decreased Perception and Coordination

Alcohol slowing the body down can show up in decreased perception and coordination. This is one of the primary reasons why drinking and driving is so closely regulated. If you drink and drive, your impaired perception and coordination makes you a danger to yourself and everyone on the road.

8. Unconsciousness Anemia (Loss of Red Blood Cells)

Unconsciousness Anemia means that your vital organs are not getting everything they need to function properly. Anemia can lead to intense fatigue, dizziness, difficulty breathing, a rapid heartbeat, and other issues.

9. Coma Blackouts

A “blackout” occurs when you consume alcohol very quickly and have little to no memory of what occurred. Blackouts are very dangerous, not only because of what it does to your brain but also because of the psychological issues and regret that can come from not remembering what you did while intoxicated.

Alcohol Treatment With Research Studies at The Pearson Center

Short term dangers can turn into long term issues unless you get help for your drinking problem. The Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research in San Diego is currently offering a research study to treat alcoholics, helping to find a solution to alcoholism. The Pearson Center is also offering a study for those who drink alcohol but are not seeking treatment. If you are interested in joining either of these studies, contact The Pearson Center by calling (858) 784-7867.