... On your Health
Alcohol goes directly into the bloodstream, physically affecting
the whole body. Some illnesses and health problems caused by alcohol
Other long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include loss of appetite, vitamin deficiencies,
stomach ailments, sexual impotence, central nervous system damage, and memory loss.
- Hangovers. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, aches and pains all result from
drinking too much. Drinking to the point of drunkenness makes
- Weight gain. Alcohol is not water. A beer has about 150 "empty" calories that provide few if any nutrients.
- High blood pressure. Along with being overweight, high blood pressure is associated
with many serious health problems.
- Depressed immune system. Impaired immunity makes you more likely to contract viral illnesses such as flu
- Cancer. 2-4% of all cancer cases are related to alcohol. Upper digestive
tract cancers are the most common, hitting the esophagus, mouth,
larynx, and pharynx. Women who drink prior to menopause are more
likely to develop breast cancer. Your risk of skin cancer doubles
if you drink slightly more than "moderate levels." Some studies
implicate alcohol in colon, stomach, pancreas and lung cancer.
And let's not forget the liver...
- Liver disease. Heavy drinking can cause fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. The liver breaks down alcohol at
the rate of only one drink per hour.
- Alcohol poisoning. Drinking large amounts can result in alcohol poisoning, which causes unconsciousness and even death. Breathing slows, and the skin becomes cold and may look blue. Don't let a person in this condition "sleep it off." Call 911.
- Heart or respiratory failure. Excessive drinking can have serious results. Heart or respiratory failure often means death.
Finally, lets not forget alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease to which some people seem predisposed.
Alcoholics are unable to control their drinking--how much, when,
and if. Alcoholism puts you at great risk for other health problems, and it can shorten your life by more than 10 years. Alcoholism
cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Through education, treatment, and self-help support such as AA, people can learn to live alcohol-free and feel good.
Like many prescription drugs, "recreational" drugs come with potentially
harmful side effects that can have serious and long-term effects
on your health.
High doses of many of the drugs, or impure or more dangerous subsitutes
for these drugs, can cause immediate life-threatening health problems
such as heart attack, respiratory failure, and coma. Combining drugs with each other or with alcohol is especially
- Barbiturates and tranquilizers are commonly abused prescription
drugs. They can cause hangover-like symptoms, nausea, seizures, and coma. Overdose or
mixing these drugs with alcohol can be fatal.
- Cocaine can cause such long-term problems as tremors, seizures, psychosis, and heart or respiratory failure.
- LSD can cause nausea, rapid heart rate, depression, and disorientation. Long-term effects include paranoia and psychosis.
- Marijuana and hashish can cause rapid heart rate and memory impairment soon after use. Long-term effects include cognitive problems, infertility, weakened immune system, and possible
- Narcotics such as heroin can bring on respiratory and circulatory depression, dizziness, impotence, constipation,
and withdrawal sickness. Overdoses can lead to seizures and death.
- PCP, in addition to triggering unpredictable and violent behavior, can cause dizziness, numbness, high heart rate and blood pressure, convulsions, and in high amounts fatal heart and lung failure or ruptured blood vessels.
- Stimulants such as amphetamines have health effects that include
high heart rate and blood pressure, headache, blurred vision, dizziness,
impotence, skin disorders, tremors, seizures, and psychosis.