According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 80% of US college students drink alcohol.
Nearly 2000 of them age 18–24 die each year from alcohol-related problems.
There is evidence that oxidative damage on the cellular level can result from excessive alcohol consumption, and that DNA itself is negatively affected.
The studies were done on young adults with relatively short histories of alcohol intake.
The long-term effects of alcohol abuse are well documented. They include:
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Liver disease
- Damage to the central nervous system,
- Subject to acute withdrawals if stopped abruptly without medical supervision
- Neuorological deficits (e.g., impaired memory, emotional instability, paranoid delusions, balance, etc.)
- Alcohol dependence can also lead to hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
The myriad of health problems associated with long-term effects of alcohol, combined with the increased risk of alcohol-related injury, death, or incarceration, all point to the conclusion that alcohol abuse is a serious medical problem and should be investigated on an individual basis at an early stage, when certain warning signs become operative. These might include:
- Drunk driving violations
- Advice from a medical professional
- Please from family and friends
- Trouble at work—perhaps termination
- Feelings of hopelessness, anger, and anxiety that are alleviated only by drinking
- A series of seemingly unrelated negative events—what looks like an extended run of bad luck
There is a tendency among problem drinkers to minimize the relevance of any of these warning signs and of the dangers of the long-term effects of alcohol.
Denial is a hallmark of alcoholism. If the problem drinker can’t honestly assess his or her situation in light of the listed (and other) warning signs, intervention may be useful in penetrating that person’s resistance to acknowledging the problem and seeking help.