Alcohol drinking has different effects when taken at different levels. Doctors have credited moderate drinking of alcohol to be healthy. Some of the health benefits that are associated with moderate drinking include the following; moderate drinking of alcohol improves blood lipid profile by increasing HDL also known as good cholesterol and decreasing LDL popularly known as bad cholesterol. It also decreases blood clotting by reducing platelet aggregation, reducing fibrinogen which causes blood clotting and increasing fibrinolysis. Fibrinolysis is the process by which clots dissolve. Moderate drinking also helps in increasing coronary blood flow, reducing blood pressure, and reducing blood insulin level. However when a person drinks alcohol without moderation then all the benefits will be overweighed by the dangers that come with heavy drinking.
There are different levels of drinking and each level exhibits different characteristics, as you begin drinking alcohol your behavior changes, the more you drink the more you will need and this is what brings about addiction. Let’s say you may begin by drinking once in a week, your thirst for alcohol will grow and before you know it you will be drinking five times in a week and this may increase gradually till you become dependent on alcohol. As the levels change so do the dangers escalate. The more you take the greater the risk. Here are the different levels of drinking.
This refers to consumption above the low-risk guidelines. At-risk drinking is consumption of alcohol in quantities that are potentially harmful to the person using alcohol. A person at this stage may not experience some of the known severe effects of alcohol consumption but if nothing is done to help a person who is at this stage of alcohol drinking to stop drinking then he may graduate to higher levels of drinking.
A man would be said to be at-risk drinker when he drinks as much 4 drinks a day or 14 drinks per week. On the other hand a woman will be said to at-risk drinker when he consumes as much 3 drinks any day or more than 7 drinks per week. Research has revealed that about 1 in 4 people who exceed these limits already have alcoholism or alcohol abuse, and the rest are at greater risk for developing these and other problems. Again, individual risks vary. People can have problems drinking less than these amounts, particularly if they drink too quickly.
He risks being dependent on alcohol if all is not done to help him evade alcohol use completely. He also risks succumbing to injuries this is because drinking too much increases your chances of being injured or even killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60% of fatal burn injuries, drowning, and homicides; 50% of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls.
Another risk is the risk the risk of poor health such as depression and even sleep disorders, other risk is the risk of contacting sexual infections while alcohol has taken toll. However it is good to note that of all the risk, the biggest risk is that of becoming dependent on alcohol as that will be hard to deal with due to severity of the withdrawal symptoms associated with it.
Alcohol abuse refers to hazardous or socially inappropriate behavior while drinking e.g., dangerous driving. A person who has reached the level of alcohol abuse will not know the bad manners he is involved in are as a result of his heavy drinking and they are mostly involved in bar brawls and fights as they will cease to be in control of their actions while under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol dependence is a psychological syndrome characterized by compulsive drinking and loss of control over consumption. At this level a person becomes dependent on alcohol so much that he cannot survive without it. Most of the time they will be seen drunk and they will no longer control the frequency and the amount of alcohol they control daily. This will make it even hard for them to maintain their jobs and supplement their family needs.
There are indicators that will let you differentiate whether a person is an at-risk drinker, an alcohol abuser or dependent on alcohol. We will use these indicators to help us find the difference between these levels of alcohol consumption.
Withdrawal symptoms- the withdrawal symptoms are not present in the at-risk drinkers, in those at alcohol abuse the withdrawal symptoms are absent too but in alcohol dependence withdrawal symptoms are mostly present.
Tolerance- in both at-risk drinkers and alcohol abuse there is mild tolerance to alcohol while in alcohol dependence there is marked tolerance.
Weekly consumption- at at-risk the weekly consumption is just above the low-risk guideline while alcohol abuse is characterized by binge drinking. In alcohol dependence a person will drink 40 or more drinks per week.
Drinks per day- at-risk drinker may take fewer than 4 drinks per day while at alcohol abuse a person will sometimes take less than 4 drinks daily. At alcohol dependence a person will rarely take less than four drinks a day.
Social consequences- at at-risk a person will not have social problems, while at alcohol abuse he will have occasional argument with wife and may face problems at work. At alcohol dependence the social consequences are quite severe, he may lose his job.
Physical consequences- at at-risk the physical consequences may be mild, these may include; hypertension, insomnia and fatty liver. At alcohol abuse the physical consequences may include trauma and violence while at alcohol dependence the physical consequences may be severe, these may include cirrhosis and pancreatitis.
Alcoholism is a problem that many people are chained to. We at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center are committed to availing help to addicts by availing some of the most effective integrative approaches to healing an addict. Call on Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for help.