Drinking A Fifth A Day | Dangers of Alcohol Consumption

Drinking a Fifth A Day

Do you drink a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage with dinner every night? This would put you in the top 30% of American adults consuming alcohol (per capita). The top 10% of alcohol consumers clinically diagnosed with severe alcohol use disorder, on average, consume 74 alcoholic drinks per week. If the scale was weighed by a single spirit alone, this means that at the high end of America’s alcoholism spectrum (top 10%), people are drinking almost a fifth (750 ml) of alcohol every day. What are the effects of drinking a fifth a day? We’re reviewing more of the risks and health implications below.

The risks of alcohol consumption run high, but nearly 24 million adults over 18 are nonetheless struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Research published in the National Library of Medicine reported that the risks of meeting the criteria for both alcohol abuse and dependence were in direct proportion with how often people exceeded the daily drinking limits.

If you’re drinking a fifth of vodka every day, it’s critical to find treatment. AspenRidge provides alcohol abuse treatment for individuals facing problematic drinking. Learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs that are tailored to fit individual needs. Contact us today at 855-281-5588

Drinking A Fifth A Day


Why Is Alcohol So Popular?

Fun, easily accessible, legal, and extremely potent, alcohol is extremely popular. In 1976, vodka surpassed whiskey as America’s best-selling spirit – a title which it’s held ever since. While drinking a fifth of vodka every day carries its own health issues, any type of alcohol can have deadly consequences.

Alcohol has come to serve as both a celebratory, relaxing and even symbolic meaning. In fact, most Americans don’t consider alcohol to be a drug, although it’s still one of the most heavily abused substances, not to mention one of the hardest addictions to kick.

Not many people may think of alcohol as a particularly dangerous drug, but given the level of addiction in the US and considering alcohol withdrawal effects, it is safe to say that alcohol is one of the worst addictions. In fact, nearly 10 people will die every hour due to alcohol-related causes.

There are also external reasons people can easily become addicted to alcohol. It may be that alcoholism runs in the family, which makes a person more susceptible. Societal pressure may also play a part. Stress, mental health issues, peer pressure, and of course accessibility are all reasons alcohol is so widely used and even accepted.

Effects of Alcohol On The Body

The realities of alcohol addiction are drastic. Alcohol affects the brain and body simultaneously. It is the ethanol within alcohol that causes chemical reactions in the brain. When alcohol is chronically abused, it will change the way the brain functions and alter behavior, decision-making, and overall health in a multitude of ways. It will begin to require the substance to feel normal. It is the chemicals in the brain that send messages which are affected. They are neurotransmitters, which tell the body what to do. Inhibitory neurotransmitters will help calm the brain down. It makes a person feel balanced and at ease.

Some of the effects that alcohol has on the body include:

  • Feelings of relaxation and drowsiness
  • A temporary sense of euphoria
  • Changes in mood
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Trouble focusing or making decisions

These effects might not last very long, but that doesn’t make them insignificant. Impulsiveness, loss of coordination, and changes in mood can affect your judgment and behavior and contribute to more far-reaching effects, including accidents, injuries, and decisions you later regret.

Dangers Of Alcohol Consumption

The Risks of Alcohol Consumption

There are huge risks connected with the overconsumption of alcohol, and alcohol is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

In general, alcoholism, or what’s defined as alcohol use disorder, is one of the biggest public health crises in the United States and has been for generations. Alcohol and substance abuse has affected people across genders, ages, and socioeconomic statuses. In 2015, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) noted that six people die every day from alcohol poisoning. Research also found that alcoholism is a factor in 30% of alcohol poisoning deaths. Further, over 100,000 people die every year due to drinking and driving, other accidents, falls, suicides, and homicides related to alcohol consumption.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is not simply drinking a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time. Instead, it’s the process of deliberately consuming more alcohol than the body can metabolize. Drinking a fifth of vodka every day, for example, poses many health risks, not excluding those associated with binge drinking and excessive drinking. Over time, both of these factors can contribute to the development of severe alcohol use disorder.

The CDC found that in 2015, one in six Americans partook in heavy drinking, consuming five or more drinks at least five times in a single month. 

There are both short- and long-term effects of bingeing on alcohol. Most people who consume high volumes of alcohol will begin to feel the effects within five to ten minutes. The high-dose drinking impacts several bodily functions and systems, including:

  • Heart – high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, sudden death from heart failure
  • Kidneys – dehydration and low levels of sodium, potassium, and other essential minerals.
  • Liver – alcohol problems are the leading cause of liver disease and liver-related problems. Alcohol is filtered through the liver and in high doses can cause fatal scarring.
  • Lungs – alcohol inhibits gag reflex, plus it can lead to substances entering the lungs
  • Pancreas – a single session of heavy alcohol use can lead to dangerously low blood sugar
  • Sexual health – alcohol impacts inhibitions, and intoxication can cause risky behavior such as unsafe sex

Long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include:

  • Blood and immune system – alcohol can lead to anemia, low platelets, and suppressed immune system
  • Bones and muscles – heavy long-term use of alcohol can interfere with absorption of calcium and can lead to osteoporosis
  • Brain and nervous system – increases risk of stroke and dementia
  • Mental health – heavy drinkers are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and psychosis
  • Sexual health – chronic heavy use of alcohol can reduce fertility in men and women
  • Intestines – AUD can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and other nutrients in the gut

Cutting back on the frequency of drinking can reduce this list of health issues. However, even low use of alcohol doesn’t mean there’s no risk.

Differences in Alcoholic Beverages

Beer is often associated with casual parties and quaint get-togethers. Wine is generally consumed at home or with dinner. Spirits spark flashbacks of vacations and nights out with friends. Ask an acquaintance, and they’ll likely profess with certainty that every alcoholic drink impacts the body differently. Scientific research, however, has not yet confirmed this to be true.

So what is the difference between drinking five shots of vodka and downing a bottle of wine at dinner? The short answer is not much. Researchers guess that different types of alcohol – whether beer, wine, or spirits – evoke different sensations due to perception and the social context in which drinking occurs. Technically, a standard drink contains the exact same amount of pure alcohol, about 14 grams of ethanol. Those five shots of vodka are exactly the same amount of alcohol as one full bottle of wine.

Two possibilities for experiencing drastic differences from one alcohol type to another are the consumption method and speed of intake. Slow drinking a few beers on a back porch with friends on a nightly basis, for example, is vastly different than drinking a fifth of vodka every day. Binge drinking will decrease inhibition and quickly increase the level of ethanol in the bloodstream leading to a host of problems.


Mixers Impact Alcohol’s Effect on the Body

The choice of mixers does play a role in drinking effects. Tequila and whiskey are usually consumed straight (or without any other beverage), white rum and vodka are often mixed with various juices, caffeinated sodas, or energy drinks. The latter can mask the effects of intoxication, leading a person to consume more.

Researchers from Northern Kentucky University found that mixing alcohol with diet beverages increases blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when measured with a breathalyzer. Researchers explain that alcohol effects are mitigated if consumed with nutrients like sugar because it slows the entry of alcohol into the small intestine.

In other words, vodka may cause faster and more potent effects on the body, depending on how it’s consumed. With elevated consumption, the body can also build up tolerance levels, eventually leading to alcohol dependency. It’s important to monitor intake and regularly assess if alcohol consumption is becoming problematic.

Alcoholism Stigma & Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Let’s talk a little about stigma and how vodka fits into an unfounded assertion. The stereotypical alcoholic usually conjures up a mental image of a homeless person drinking vodka concealed in a paper bag. The problem with this understanding of alcoholism is that it caters to a long-standing stigma regarding alcohol abuse. Alcoholics are widely believed to be dysfunctional and, in some ways, mentally ill.

The National Institutes of Health reports that over 20% of individuals suffering from alcohol abuse had a good education, held stable jobs, and had a normal family life.

In terms of the most favored beverage among those with a diagnosed AUD, the preferences vary. If problem drinkers widely consume vodka, it may be due in part to its colorless appearance and the ease of use in mixing it with other beverages. However, beer and whiskey – as noted – produce the same effects.

Whatever type of alcohol is consumed, all are dangerous in high amounts. Whether you’re drinking a fifth of vodka every day, or chugging a case of beer, the short- and long-term health consequences can be lethal.

Drinking a Fifth a Day: Getting Help

The U.S. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that men consume no more than four drinks on any day and no more than 14 drinks per week. On the other hand, women should not consume more than three drinks a day and no more than seven per week.

Drinking a fifth of vodka every day would put someone well over the recommended alcohol levels. At this rate of drinking, alcohol abuse treatment is critical. The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs asserts that treatment methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), help clients overcome alcohol abuse urges.

For individuals drinking a substantial amount of vodka, detoxification may be necessary to reduce the dangerous effects of withdrawal. Other than detox, individuals should explore treatment options that provide support from peer groups and individual therapy.

Effects Of Alcohol On The Body

AspenRidge: Addressing Drinking a Fifth A Day

Drinking a fifth a day can have catastrophic outcomes for a person, as well as for loved ones surrounding the issue.

It’s easy to forget that alcohol is toxic to the human body whether or not it is consumed regularly. Excessive alcohol use is dangerous. Alcohol addiction treatment specialists at AspenRidge are here to assist with tailored alcohol recovery programs that safely manage withdrawal symptoms while addressing alcohol abuse and any underlying co-occurring disorders.

Certified clinicians at AspenRidge can aid at any stage of recovery. Since alcohol abuse and dependency vary in severity, our treatment specialists are well versed in identifying spectrum use and providing guidance for overcoming alcohol use disorder (AUD) and other problematic drinking habits. Our different levels of care provide a comprehensive approach to addressing dangerous alcohol consumption and underlying mental health effects that may exacerbate the issue. Our programs include:

Don’t wait. Early intervention can prevent many of the diseases found in this list. Contact us today directly at (719) 259-1107. Our staff will verify insurance options and explain treatment programs available at AspenRidge Recovery Centers.

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