Alcohol, the drug of choice of most Americans, is often considered to be safe, despite significant evidence to the contrary. It makes sense that people think the substance is benign, after all, you can purchase beer, liquor, and wine just about anywhere—in some places around the clock. Even young people know that as long as they do not get behind the wheel, they do not have much to worry about when it comes to drinking.
Legal consequences of drinking may be the biggest concern of young Americans. But, a growing body of research shows that teenagers and young adults who drink heavy have much more than a DUI to look forward to, if they continue imbibing in hazardous ways. Even when you remove the risk of developing alcohol use disorder or alcoholism from the equation – some 16 million Americans struggle with AUDs – the health consequences of binge drinking and regular alcohol use are staggering.
One of the most significant health concerns that people associate with drinking alcohol is the effect that the substance has on vital organs, like the liver. However, most individuals correlate conditions like cirrhosis with patients who’ve drunk copious amounts of liquor for decades. While it’s true that liver disease predominately affects older Americans, a growing body of evidence suggests that young people are eligible too. And, a separate study indicates that young people who binge drink, elevate their chances of experiencing heart problems later in life.
The Impact of Alcohol Use
A study published last month in BMJ indicates that fatal liver disease is on the rise, particularly amongst younger demographics, NPR reports. In fact, alcohol-related liver disease deaths annually nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016 with 25- to 34-year-olds. The troubling findings coincide with rising rates of binge drinking in the U.S. The NIAAA defines binge drinking as when women have four drinks or men have five drinks in about 2 hours.
“Alcohol-related liver cirrhosis used to be considered a disease that would happen after 30 years of heavy alcohol consumption,” says Dr. Vijay Shah, who heads the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic. “But this study is showing that these problems are actually occurring in individuals in their 20s and 30s.”
It gets worse, aside from binge drinking putting the liver at risk, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that young binge drinkers may have a more significant risk of developing heart disease and experiencing stroke down the road, Newsweek reports. The findings are cause for concern; researchers point out that one in five college-age students binge drink.
“As part of this intervention pattern, young adults should be screened and counseled about alcohol misuse, including binge drinking, and advised on how binge drinking may affect their cardiovascular health,” said Mariann Piano, study co-author and a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
If you are a young adult whose alcohol use is negatively impacting your life, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Alcohol use disorder can strike in young adulthood; there are not any age restrictions to addiction. At HVRC, we can help you break the cycle of AUD and show you how to lead a productive and healthy life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.