The dangers of other highly addictive substances are well known. For example, if you were at a social event and someone asked if you wanted heroin, you’d probably decline. You may also distance yourself from that person. But alcohol is different. If the same person offered you a glass of wine instead, you might accept, and your opinion of that person wouldn’t change. After you read these ten terrifying facts about alcoholism, you might develop a healthy fear.
1. Alcohol is deadly
When you think of substance abuse deaths, alcohol probably isn’t even on your radar. But it should be. Alcohol poisoning is a problem, but it’s not the only cause of alcohol-related deaths. Consider how many DUI-related car accidents you hear about on the news. This helps attribute to 88,000 deaths every year.
2. Alcohol is linked to assault
If you think about this one, it’s probably not a stretch to believe that alcohol can increase the likelihood of assault. You know this to be true if you’ve ever seen a bar-room brawl. Alcohol is associated with many cases of assault, included 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24.
If you have teenage children, talk to them about the dangers of drinking. Parents play a vital role in keeping children safe from addiction.
3. Alcoholism controls your life
You won’t know you’re addicted until you can’t stop drinking. Alcoholics experience physical symptoms of withdrawal that can range from mild to severe, but they will begin with cravings, physical dependence, high tolerance and loss of control.
Alcoholism usually starts innocently enough. It usually starts off in college or earlier when teens begin experimenting with alcohol. College parties and binge drinking lay the groundwork for a lifetime of problem drinking. Without warning or permission, alcoholism takes control. Your brain becomes rewired to crave alcohol all the time, and you experience physical withdrawal symptoms if you don’t have a drink.
4. Alcohol is deadlier to teens than any drug
It may be because of the availability of this substance, but we can’t ignore that alcohol kills more teens than all illegal drugs combined. In fact, it’s responsible for 4,700 deaths each year.
When your abilities are impaired, anything can go wrong. Alcohol poisoning, car accidents, and abuse are all causes of death that are often related to alcohol abuse.
5. Alcohol has a common ingredient with gasoline
The same gasoline that fuels your car contains ethanol, which is the exact type of alcohol we drink. Ethanol isn’t the main ingredient in gasoline; it’s about 10 percent of a blended gasoline mix. So, yes, you’re drinking an ingredient you put into your car.
Ethanol is the only type of alcohol that can be consumed in small doses. Other types are extremely poisonous and should be avoided at all costs. About 0.6 fluid ounces of ethanol is in the equivalent of one drink. For example, one 12-ounce beer at 5 percent alcohol and five ounces of wine at 12 percent alcohol both have 0.6 fluid ounces of ethanol.
6. Your brain changes when you drink
Alcohol floods your brain’s reward pathways with dopamine, which leaves you wanting more and more. But that’s not the only way this substance changes your brain. Drinking alcohol can have lasting side effects that include memory loss, confusion, and impaired motor skills.
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows nerve cells in the brain. This results in altered speech, slowed reaction time, hazy thinking, impaired thinking, and weakened muscles. How quickly this happens depends on a variety of factors, including your size, weight, and gender.
Alcohol is especially dangerous for teens whose brains are still developing.
7. Alcohol robs you of your memories
Binge drinking is especially problematic for your precious memories. Have you ever had a wild night out that you can’t remember? That’s because your brain became overloaded with alcohol and stopped recording new memories. Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks in two hours. If you drink in this way, you may not remember much of what happens next. These periods of memory loss are called alcohol blackouts.
8. Women are at greater risk
Women and men metabolize alcohol differently for many reasons, including hormones, muscle to fat ratio and different stomach enzymes. This causes women to metabolize alcohol slower than men do, which puts women at greater risk of side effects and addiction.
9. Alcohol withdrawal can be deadly
In some extreme cases, alcohol withdrawal can be deadly. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be extremely dangerous and include things like seizures, hallucinations and memory loss. Delirium tremors (DTs) is a withdrawal symptom that can lead to uncontrollable seizures and even death. This is a serious medical emergency that requires hospitalization.
10. Binge drinking can be deadly
Not only can you lose your memory from drinking too much in one sitting, but you can also lose your life. When you drink too much alcohol at once, you run the risk of poisoning yourself with ethanol. Ethanol is the type of alcohol we consume, and in large quantities, it can depress breathing so much that you simply stop.
Binge drinking also puts you at risk of having seizures, experiencing extreme dehydration and losing consciousness.