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5 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Body

5 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Body

Alcohol.

To teens, its temporary effects are dangerously euphoric and mysteriously alluring. It’s illegal, which speaks to the deep-rooted rebellious emotions many teens experience. It’s also unfamiliar, which makes it both new and enticing. And it’s a great way to blow off steam from many of the stresses that teens feel in their lives. What teen doesn’t want to wind down and loosen up after a rough week of homework and tests?

However, excessive alcohol use by teens (or anyone for that matter) can have lingering and dangerous long-term effects on the body. Many of these are effects neither the teen nor the teen’s parents may have even considered.

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As if alcohol’s natural charm weren’t enough, plenty of teens are surrounded by poor examples, as well. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2013, over 70 percent of adults 18 years of age and older admitted to drinking within the past year, and 56.4 percent said they’d had a drink within the past month.

But why is excessive drinking—even in controlled environments—so dangerous? Here’s a hint: alcohol’s harmful effects do more than just damage relationships. They pose a threat to your physical health as well. Here are 5 surprising effects that alcohol has on the body.

1. It can lower your immune system

Alcohol use lowers your immune system’s ability to fight off disease. The damage can start almost instantly and in some cases can still be affecting your body days after your latest binge drinking session, even after the alcohol is no longer in your system. You’re at higher risk of contracting pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other potentially life-threatening conditions. It also puts alcohol users at risk of catching the common cold.

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2. You can suffer brain damage

A recent study headed by Dr. Mary-Louise Risher of Duke University uncovered that among damage to the brain, excessive alcohol use negatively affects the hippocampus, resulting in poorer learning and memory development in both adolescents and adults. They also found that it can further alter adolescent brain development and repair.

3. It can lead to high blood pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is another common effect of excessive alcohol use. Hypertension is associated with countless health problems, including chronic kidney disease, kidney artery aneurysms, coronary artery disease, an increasing risk for a heart attacks and strokes, and more.

4. It can give you ulcers

Mixed with tobacco use, stress, and even excess use of OTC painkillers like ibuprofen, alcohol can play a role in the development of stomach ulcers and esophageal ulcers. The pain associated with these ulcers can upset your daily life, preventing you from fulfilling your daily duties in a timely fashion and causing even more stress.

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5. It can be responsible for multiple types of cancer

Ask any person on the street what type of cancer is most associated with alcohol and you’re bound to get the same response—liver cancer. But liver cancer is not the only cancer that can develop as a result of excessive drinking. Excessive drinking can also increase your risk of developing bowel cancer, mouth cancer, breast cancer, and more. If any of these already run in your family, you risk increasing your odds even further by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

Alcohol is a depressant, leading to impaired bodily functions, bad judgement and poor life choices if consumed in high quantities. Its effects on the body can result in an increased risk of medical problems, costly hospital stays and a regular regimen of medications. Excessive alcohol use does more to damage your body than to preserve it.

If you have experience on alcohol abuse and tips on how to deal with it, please leave them below.

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Featured photo credit: Credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Dan Gellman

Director of Marketing for High Focus Centers

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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