Excessive, Regular Alcohol Use And Its Long Term Effects On Health

2012-02-03 | |
Last updated: 2012-02-03

As the oldest and most frequently consumed drug in the world, alcohol has secured itself a special position because its use is considered normal. This contrasts significantly with other drug use that is generally frowned upon. But, despite being given this special consideration, alcohol, like all drugs, can cause injury to the body. While this may bring to mind a homeless alcoholic sleeping on a sidewalk or the stereotypical image of drunk father who is a menace to his family, alcohol abuse comes in more subtle forms that can simply cause illness.

Now the term “alcohol abuse” is a charged one because nobody wants to think of himself or herself as a substance abuser. At the same time, commenting on someone else’s alcohol use is not likely to be received well. The medical community uses terms like alcohol abuse, binge drinking and heavy drinking but these terms also have a stigmatizing effect when used to describe people. As a result, it is more effective to simply state the amounts of alcohol that can lead to injury, keeping in mind that injury can take years to become apparent.

That said, understanding how much is safe to drink requires first understanding what is meant when the medical community talks about a drink.

How Much Alcohol Is In A Drink?

According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), a standard drink contains 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. In terms of drinks that people actually purchase regularly, that is equivalent to the following:

  • 12-ounce or 354-ml bottle or 3/4-pint of regular strength beer
  • 5-ounce or 146-ml glass of regular wine
  • 1.5-ounce or 44-ml shot of hard liquor

With these numbers in mind, we can then look at what amounts of regular alcohol consumption lead to health problems.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks

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