The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans has a rather modest recommendation of 2 standard drinks a day or fewer for men, and one standard drink or fewer for women, with the baseline “standard drink” being roughly equivalent to a can of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of liquor. But as our scientific understanding of alcohol use improves, the idea of “moderate drinking” has become more and more questioned.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, drinking these so-called minimum amounts daily can, over months or years, bring about risks similar to those experienced by heavy drinkers.
Below are some of the effects of daily drinking that could be expected after a few years. To learn more, check out these resources on evidence-based SMART Recovery in Dallas.
1.) Your Risk from Accidents Increases
We’re all aware that alcohol impairs decision-making and fine motor movements, a recipe for disaster when driving, operating heavy equipment, or even being out in inclement weather. While a couple of instances of drinking will not raise your one-time risk appreciably, the way probabilities work means that daily drinking might raise your chance of eventually meeting an accident, over time.
2.) Your Skin Dries Out
While some alcoholic drinks like beer might seem to be great thirst quenchers, alcohol dries up and destroys your bodily tissues by making it more difficult to achieve optimal hydration. This happens throughout your body but happens to be more noticeable on your skin, giving it a rougher, more aged appearance.
3.) Your Brain Shrinks
Your brain cells are also vulnerable to this loss of moisture and elasticity. Over time, daily alcohol consumption can reduce the size of your brain, impairing its ability to create new connections and brain cells.
4.) Your Working Memory Gets Impaired
Speaking of brain cells and connections, the parts of the brain related to memory are among the first affected by alcohol consumption. Daily alcohol consumption may not only lead to blackouts and difficulty retaining long-term memories, but it can also interfere with your short-term memory. This can impede performance at work or school, even when you’re not intoxicated.
5.) Your Body Is Less Able to Absorb Nutrition
People who consume alcohol daily are more likely to have issues related to malnutrition. This is due to a wide variety of reasons, such as empty calories, the diversion of vital nutrients to process alcohol, and the diuretic properties that cause drinkers to expel important trace minerals in their urine.
6.) You Increase the Risk of Type II Diabetes
Alcohol has a host of effects that can contribute to type II diabetes, including interfering with hormonal balance and reducing the body’s ability to control blood sugar. If an individual happens to be susceptible, this can happen with relatively low, “moderate” doses over time.
7.) Your Sex Life Gets Worse
Daily alcohol consumption can eventually ruin your sex life. While it’s great at loosening inhibitions, alcohol can act as a vasoconstrictor, reducing efficient blood flow throughout the body. It also slows down breathing, which reduces oxygen levels. When taken together, this can lead to a reduction in sexual performance for both men and women.
8.) You Get Sick More Often
Consuming alcohol daily causes your body to prioritize energy and nutrients in helping it recover from the effects of the substance. This reallocation of resources will eventually weaken the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds and other diseases that you might otherwise have been able to better cope with.
9.) Your Liver Takes a Beating
Even though your liver is a remarkably tough organ, consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol regularly will eventually damage it. Liver disease can be life-threatening, leaving one susceptible to secondary infections, digestive problems, and a whole host of other conditions that may destroy your quality of life.
10.) Your Mental Health May Suffer
While moderate daily drinking doesn’t necessarily mean you have an alcohol use disorder (AUD), it can indicate it. AUD can worsen depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental health conditions. People with a mental health disorder should refrain from any kind of regular drinking as it will dramatically increase their risks of worsened symptoms.
Find Help for AUD Today
Daily drinking, even of so-called “moderate” amounts of alcohol, can put your physical and mental health at serious risk within a few months. It may also contribute to an AUD, which can compel you to drink heavily and put your health further at risk.
Thankfully, AUD is easily treated, provided it is detected early. Not having any physical withdrawal symptoms is not an indicator that you do not have AUD, so it’s always best to see a qualified mental health expert for full diagnostics and examination. When caught early, AUD treatment costs can be reduced and outcomes tend to be improved.