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3 Harms of Heavy Drinking

Even though it’s legal, alcohol can be harmful. Heavy drinking for men means more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, it’s more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week.

If you drink this much, you could be putting yourself or others at risk. Here are three ways drinking alcohol can be harmful.

1.      Alcohol increases the risk for injuries and death.

Drinking too much alcohol can also make you more likely to harm yourself or others. Alcohol slows your reaction time. It makes you less coordinated. It affects your judgment. The more you drink, the worse these abilities become. Alcohol is involved in many fatal burn injuries, drownings, severe trauma injuries, sexual assaults, suicides, lethal falls, and deadly car crashes.

2.      Heavy drinking can cause health problems.

There’s a long list of health problems that tend to occur with heavy drinking. They include:

  • Liver disease

  • Heart disease

  • Depression

  • Stroke

  • Certain types of cancer

If you have a health condition and drink a lot, then you may not be able to care for yourself like you should. This can make your health problems worse. Heavy drinking can also lead to risky sexual behaviors. You’re more likely to have unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These put you at risk for sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy.

3.      You could develop an alcohol use disorder.

About 17 million people in the United States have an alcohol use disorder—a term doctors use when your drinking becomes harmful or causes distress. There are many symptoms. Some examples are:

  • Your drinking interferes with responsibilities at home, work, or school.

  • You give up activities you used to enjoy so you can drink.

  • You want to cut back but can’t.

  • You get into dangerous situations while drinking such as driving, swimming, or having unsafe sex.

If you think you may have a drinking problem, talk with your health care provider. Many different treatments are available.

If you drink, try to keep it within a safe range. Moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

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