According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSB), nearly 31 percent of all traffic related fatalities are caused by alcohol-impaired driving accidents. This is a frightening statistic, but it only represents a fraction of the danger that drinking alcohol poses to adults and adolescents alike. Many websites tout the importance of “drinking responsibly”, but this isn’t a realistic approach to a nationwide epidemic. There are several reasons why there is no such thing as drinking responsibly, and why abstinence is a viable option if you want to avoid the issues alcohol can bring.

Alcohol’s Effect on the Body

The constant consumption and abuse of alcohol causes significant damage to nearly all of the body’s major organ system, not to mention the inconvenience caused by a nasty hangover. Here are just a few of the ways abusing alcohol can ravage your otherwise healthy body:

The Liver – The most common cause of cirrhosis (or scarring) of the liver is excessive consumption of alcohol over a long period of time. Beyond this devastating illness, abusers can also develop a condition called alcoholic hepatitis, which causes the liver to become dramatically inflamed and can result in jaundice, severe abdominal pains, nausea, high fevers and vomiting. It’s not uncommon for an individual diagnosed with either condition to require a transplant, or perish, if they continue to drink.

The Brain – The continued abuse of alcohol damages brain cells and affects the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, all of which can have a marked effect on your daily life and activities. From a poor attention span and delayed reaction time to slurred speech and permanent memory loss. Even consuming minimal amounts of alcohol can seriously damage your ability to function normally.

Cancer – Unfortunately, many individuals succumb to cancer simply because they chose to consume or abuse alcohol. The development of many forms of cancer, including esophageal, stomach, colon, rectal, mouth and throat, has been directly linked to the abuse of alcohol.

How Drinking Affects Performance

It can take several years for certain illnesses and conditions caused by the consumption of alcohol to manifest, but this doesn’t mean that drinking won’t have a dramatic effect on your current life and ability to function at work or school. Here are a few ways that drinking can negatively affect your performance at school or work:

  • Adolescents that consumed alcohol had a more difficult time learning and retaining information, and scored much lower on exams that tested their vocabulary.
  • The negative ramifications of consuming alcohol become evident when a person’s sleep patterns are studied. In general, alcohol negatively affects the quality and duration of a person’s sleep. This is because alcohol is a sedative, and like any other drug in this class can result in disrupted sleep patterns, lack of sleep and in many cases, disturbing nightmares.
  • When posed with a question or presented a piece of verbal or non-verbal information, drinkers are less likely to retain that knowledge over an extended period of time. In the case of adolescents or teens, this fact will have a devastatingly negative impact on their school performance or ability to achieve success later in life.

Remember:  drinking alcohol is not necessarily a fun experience or something you should ever feel pressured to partake in. There is a lot joy to be found in sobriety, as well, and you probably won’t feel as bad, come morning. With drinking, comes a great deal of responsibility as well as consequences. So make the wise choice, in the matter.