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