The Dangers of Using Alcohol to Relax After Work on a Regular Basis

While many of us like to tip back a bottle or glass at the end of the day to unwind, alcohol has more harm than good to offer your life and business when over-consumed.

Current recommendations are set at no more than one drink (10 ounces of wine, 3 ounces of liquor, or 24 ounces of beer) a day for men. Women are allowed half those numbers per day. It’s also recommended you take a break for at least one day, if not two, every week where you don’t consume any alcohol at all.

These standards may shock some of you, who don’t even start to feel a buzz until you’re on your third drink. However, these guidelines are in place because this double-edged poison is so terribly hard on the liver and other organs.

Moderate drinking has shown to help the heart, including lowering “bad” cholesterol numbers, thus bringing LDL / HDL readings closer together and in balance with one another.

So that’s all well and good if you can keep yourself under the moderate drinking umbrella. But what happens if drinking becomes chronic?

Dangers of using alcohol

We’ve all known one or two functional alcoholics during our lifetime. However, they’re indeed a rarity. And all usually succumb to a painful death at some point, for some ailment or accident caused by their problem.

Let’s look at some facts about alcohol and how it can affect both your work and personal life via its alarming effects on the brain and the body’s stress levels (Warning — some of these may induce graphic nightmarish images!):

The Brain — Thinking and Stress Management Affected by Alcohol

Few people realize the pleasurable, relaxing effects alcohol has on us after a hard day is du[BMTH] e to its effects on both the central nervous system and the brain. Yes, we all know that a little makes us feel giddy and happy, and a little more makes us tipsy, and a few more gives us blurred vision and more. It also leads to impaired judgment — not just at the time, but over the course of the next day or two. If you’re lucky!

Inevitably though, with prolonged over-use, alcohol starts to change our brain chemistry — essentially making it impossible for the brain to deal with the most basic of stressors without a drink — or several, as it is with the case with chronic alcoholism. This is bad news as time wanes on and drinking continues. Just the stress of getting out of bed in the morning begins to bring on nasty withdrawal symptoms (including dizziness and panic), as the brain desperately attempts to restore happy stasis to the body:

Numerous mechanisms have been suggested to contribute to the relationship between alcohol dependence, stress, and drinking behavior. These include the stress hormones released by the adrenal glands in response to HPA axis activation (i.e., corticosteroids), neuromodulators known as neuroactive steroids, CRF, the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, and other stress-related molecules.

Mix in work and family-related stress and you’re in for a wild, bumpy ride filled with poor cognitive performance and likely to have a complete meltdown on your family, friends, coworkers and/or customers at some point.

Frequent Alcohol Use Not for Everyone

Prolonged abuse of alcohol can lead to any number of chronic and or deadly conditions. We’ve all heard of the health risks associated with alcoholism. However, the dangers to your ability to think, be creative and handle stress effectively take much less time to surface. Daily excessive drinking starts to wear on your brain and increases stress levels when you’re not drinking — and shortly after you stop — to the point where it’s doing much more harm than good.

With all that said; some people, like America’s oldest living WWII veteran, Richard Overton are able to drink as they please and still be mobile and seemingly healthy at the ripe young age of 109! Could you imagine?

So who am I to judge?

Share your thoughts/experiences on chronic drinking and its effects on the brain and body.

Main Image Credit: Aaron Bassett/Flickr