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20 Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol

Updated on July 27, 2019
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Since completing university in England, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian and freelance writer. He currently lives in Florida.

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Having spent many of my younger years drinking at parties, bars, and clubs, I've come to understand that there can be some definitive downsides to alcohol. Below is my list of 20 reasons for why you may wish to avoid drinking.

Alcohol: 20 Reasons to Avoid Drinking

  1. Addiction
  2. Hangovers
  3. Expense
  4. Weight Gain
  5. Foolish Behavior
  6. Aggression
  7. Drunk Driving
  8. Overly Amorous or Lustful
  9. Self-Pity
  10. Blackouts
  11. Cancer
  12. More Likely to Use Other Substances
  13. Relationship Issues
  14. Mental Health
  15. Impulsiveness
  16. Disrupts Sleep
  17. Liver Disease
  18. Brain Damage
  19. Accidents and Injuries
  20. Accelerated Aging

I will explain each of my reasons in a little more detail below.

1. Addiction

The number one problem with alcohol is that it is addictive. Most addicts start out as social drinkers, but gradually become dependent, often without even realizing it's happening. Essentially, drinking can hijack the part of your brain responsible for pleasure, and other activities lose their appeal.

2. Hangovers

You can pay a heavy price for getting drunk in the form of a hangover the following day. Symptoms can include headache, nausea, tiredness, dry mouth, and shakiness. Hangovers make you feel bad and lead to lower productivity.

3. Expense

Drinking alcohol regularly can really hurt your wallet. It may seem like you are just spending ten, twenty, or thirty dollars here and there, but when you add it all up, the cost is often substantial.

4. Weight Gain

Alcoholic drinks contain fat, sugar and alcohol. If you drink them regularly, you will gain weight over time, especially as you grow older. For men in particular, the belly can be particularly prone to the gathering of extra fat.

5. Foolish Behavior

Alcohol can make you feel confident, even when the reality is that you are acting like an idiot. You say things you shouldn't, and behave inappropriately without realizing it. At the very least it can cause you embarrassment the following day, and sometimes the consequences can be much more serious.

6. Aggression

It's no secret that alcohol can make some people aggressive. This may take the form of verbal abuse, or even physical violence. I've seen some of the gentlest of souls turn into absolute monsters when they're under the influence.

7. Drunk Driving

It's impossible to talk about the negative effects of alcohol without mentioning drunk driving. Despite strict laws and the social taboo now associated with driving under the influence, it is still a major cause of death and injury on the roads. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an average of 28 people die each day as a result of drunk driving.

8. Overly Amorous or Lustful

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions. This can result in inappropriate or risky behavior, such as flirting, or making a pass at someone that you shouldn't. In extreme situations, you can even end up getting sexually involved with someone, purely because you are drunk.

10. Blackouts

Alcohol can have serious effects on the brain and particularly memory. Blackouts don't mean that the person falls unconscious, or goes to sleep, rather they continue to interact with others, engage in routine or potentially dangerous behaviors, and often continue to drink. The brain just doesn't forward what's happening to the person's memory. Blackouts can be very destructive because people can do things like drive, overspend, or have sexual encounters without really being conscious of what they are doing.

9. Self-Pity

While most people report feeling happier when drunk, there are those who lapse into self-pity and depression after too many drinks. As the party gets into full swing, they can be found in the corner, sobbing into their glass.

11. Cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, alcohol causes seven types of cancer, including mouth and upper throat, larynx, liver, esophagus, breast, and bowel cancers. It's thought to do this through damaging the DNA in stem cells.

12. More Likely to Use Other Substances

Because alcohol lowers inhibitions and promotes more impulsive behavior, you can easily find yourself indulging in other substances. This might mean smoking cigarettes at a party when you don't usually smoke. It might mean involvement with marijuana or other, stronger drugs.

13. Relationship Issues

Alcohol can often bring unnecessary drama to a relationship. It can fuel arguments, contribute to infidelity, increase insensitive or aggressive behavior, even violence. It's a major cause of split-ups and divorces.

14. Mental Health

Although alcohol can often make people feel better about themselves in the short term, there is a lot of scientific research to show that overall it's effect is usually to increase anxiety and depression in the longer term. Alcohol can also make other psychological conditions much worse, as well as contribute to suicidal feelings.

15. Impulsiveness

Drinking contributes to all sorts of impulsive behavior. At the very least, you can find yourself overspending, drinking more, or staying out longer than you intended. At worst, you can put yourself in danger, or do something with long term negative consequences.

16. Disrupts Sleep

Although alcohol can help some people to fall off to sleep quicker, it has the effect of lowering the quality of sleep, because scientists believe it but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Interrupted sleep patterns lower your energy levels, powers of concentration, and overall mood.

17. Liver Disease

Alcohol can have a profoundly negative effect on the body generally, but the liver is particularly vulnerable. Regular drinking causes lipids to build up in the liver, known as fatty liver disease. Damage from alcohol can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, a potentially fatal condition. Cirrhosis of the liver can develop - the liver becomes scarred and is no longer able to function

18. Brain Damage

Alcohol has a profound effect on the brain. In the short term, it muddies thinking, and causes bad decision making and impulsiveness. In the long term, alcohol can cause permanent changes to the brain's chemistry, impairing memory. It can also cause serious conditions, such as Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome, a form of long-lasting psychosis, where the sufferer experiences severe memory problems, is easily frustrated, and has impaired mobility and coordination. Damage to the liver can also cause brain damage, due to the liver's ability to process alcohol being reduced.

19. Accidents and Injuries

There's no doubt that drinking will increase your chances of experiencing some sort of accident or injury from things like burns, violence, falls, drowning. There are three main reasons why. Firstly, alcohol slows reactions times. Secondly, it impairs physical coordination, mobility, and vision. Thirdly, it undermines good decision making.

20. Accelerated Aging

Regular use of alcohol can make you look older. One reason is that alcohol dehydrates the body, drying out the skin. It also causes body tissue inflammation, which is why people can become flushed when under the influence. This ages the skin over time. In addition, scientific studies suggest that alcohol has a general aging effect on the body's cells, undermining organs such as the liver, heart, and skin.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Paul Goodman

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