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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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