Drinking alcohol in large quantities lowers the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that helps people to feel good and be in a good mood. Overconsumption of alcohol can destroy this chemical. Antidepressants are made to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, but if too much alcohol is consumed it can take a long while for the antidepressants to work because there is little to no serotonin left in the brain to raise. Over time, the depressed person who is on medication may get impatient and feel that the antidepressants are not working and resort to overconsumption of alcohol again. This is a vicious cycle that is often difficult to break.
Overconsumption of alcohol can also deplete the body of vital nutrients it needs to remain healthy and functioning. Proper nutrition not only plays a large role in our physical health, but also our mental health as well. If we do not feed the proper nutrients to our bodies, it will not function properly. Many in this country eat three or more meals per day and are still considered malnourished because the excessive amount of alcohol they consume depletes the nutrients from their bodies. One nutrient that alcohol destroys is folic acid. Folic acid is necessary for brain development. Drinking too much alcohol can deplete the body of this nutrient and most of us are somewhat deficient to begin with. A severe deficiency in folic acid can lead to depression.
When the brain is deficient of folic acid, deterioration happens causing early aging of the brain which leads to dementia. Consuming too much alcohol has a snowball effect on the body leading to depression and eventually dementia if left untreated. When people drink to escape their problems, they initially get a good feeling from the alcohol. Because of this feeling they assume that if they drink larger quantities of alcohol that the good feeling will get even better. Sadly, this is not the case. What ends up happening is that over a period of time the large amount of alcohol that they drink makes them even more depressed because of the effects that overconsumption of alcohol has on the brain and body in general. It depletes the body of vital nutrients needed for healthy brain functioning and can eventually lead to the aging of the brain.
Depression was once thought to be all in the mind. In a sense, it is but it is not so easy to get over as many may think. When a person is suffering from depression for a length of time he should seek professional help and not resort to drinking. This isn't always easy and sometimes trusted friends and family members need to step in and make sure the person gets the professional treatment needed to manage and hopefully overcome their depression. The depressed person should not be allowed to drink even in moderation. The effect of moderate consumption will give the temporary feeling of an uplifted mood and convince the person that alcohol is what is needed to escape the dark feelings he is having. This would be a poor choice because excessive drinking will do more harm than good in the long-term and the purpose is to heal, not to destroy.
Drinking alcohol for many is not a problem. Having a glass or two at a social event or having a beer while watching the game on television is normal for most and does not pose any type of health concerns. In fact, given the recent positive reports on the benefits of drinking red wine in moderation, many have added this to their diets in hopes of gaining the benefits from drinking it. Alcohol is not illegal and can be sold to individuals over the age of twenty-one. However, because of the effects of drinking even small quantities of alcohol there are usually warnings everywhere that we should be responsible while drinking. We know the dangers of drinking and driving which is why a person should not drive even if only one or two drinks are consumed. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
While most of us can manage our consumption of alcohol, there are those who fall into groups where it is no so easily managed. Alcoholism is a disease which many feel is genetic. That is, if a person's parents or even grandparents were addicted to alcohol the chances of them becoming addicted are very strong. There is a certain amount of pressure on society to drink. We drink at sporting events or any other type of social gathering and those who do not drink are often pressured to do so by their peers. It almost seems that those choosing not to drink alcohol are frowned upon by those who do drink. Those prone to alcoholism are often set up for failure.
Many people not realize the dangers of excessive drinking or they feel that it cannot happen to them. Drinking in moderation has been shown to be relatively safe, but excessive drinking can be deadly. The physical damage that overconsumption of alcohol can have is frightening. The damage that it can cause to the liver is irreversible. Since the liver is an organ that is not transplantable and cannot be replaced, liver damage due to excessive alcohol consumption is much like a death sentence. The liver is responsible for so many necessary functions in the body that to live without one is impossible.
The heart is another vital organ in the body that can be destroyed because of drinking too much alcohol. Once the heart is weakened, it becomes difficult for it to function properly. This can lead to fluid retention, hypertension and a host of other health problems which diminishes the quality of life. When the heart can no longer function as it was meant to, the person is pretty much confined to the home and in need of health care around the clock. The effects of alcohol on the heart can be devastating and unfortunate because it is something that is within our control.
A stroke is another event that can rob a person of his quality of life. While there is no surefire way of guaranteeing that a stroke will not occur, there are certainly preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of a stroke. Excessive drinking of alcohol is one step that can be eliminated to reduce the risk of stroke. Drinking too much alcohol can minimize the blood flow to the brain thereby reducing the amount of oxygen to the brain. This is a major cause of strokes so if alcohol is eliminated, then the person stands a better chance of not getting a stroke and not having his quality of life limited. There are always certain aspects of life that we have no control over, but the things we do have control over are the ones that we should focus on and tend to.
It is easy to say that we should make alcohol illegal to avoid the many pitfalls and health issues that it causes. If we get rid of alcohol, there will always be some other drug readily available with effects just as devastating as excessive alcohol consumption. What we should do is provide the public with more information on the dangers of overconsumption so that people can make informed decisions for themselves.
Britton, Kathryn. a., Gaziano, John Michael, Sesso, Howard D., and Djusse, Luc. "Relation of Alcohol Consumption and Coronary Heart Disease in Hypertensive Male Physicians (from the Physician's Health Study)." The American Journal of Cardiology 5.36 (2009): 932-935.
Caicoya, Martin, Rodriguez, Teresa, Corrales, Carmen, Cuello, R. And Lasheras, Cristina. "Alcohol and Stroke: A Community Case Control Study in Asturias, Spain." Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 52.7 (1999): 677-684.
Diehl, Anna Mae. "Liver Disease in Alcohol Abusers: Clinical Perspective." Alcohol 27 (2002): 7-11.
Rimm, Eric B. And Moats, Caroline. "Alcohol and Coronary Heart Disease: Drinking Patterns and Mediators of Effect." Annals of Epidemiology 17.5S (2007): S3-S7.