The Merits and Demerits of Alcohol

a glass of scotch

Alcohol is a socially acceptable beverage in most parts of the world. However, its use has more legislation, guidelines, and controversial laws surrounding it than any other substance. There are good points and bad for alcohol use. As with anything that has its merits, when overused or abused, alcohol has strong negative aspects.

Can Alcohol Be Beneficial?

When used in small quantities, alcohol has been recognized as beneficial:

  • in decreasing risk for heart attack, due to the increased levels of HDL, the “good cholesterol”; which reduces chances for blocked arteries or stroke;
  • reduced risk for creation of gallstones;
  • reduced risk of diabetes.

At this time, moderate drinking is considered to be less than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women. A drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1-1/2 ounces of hard liquor.

Moderate Drinking Risks

Drinking more than moderately can produce serious health risks, including:

  • Increased risk of cancer in the pancreas, mouth, pharynx, esophageal, breast and liver
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stroke
  • Brain atrophy or damage
  • Cirrhosis
  • Birth defects for pregnant women (including fetal alcohol syndrome)
  • Car accidents
  • Heightened risk for suicide
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

People Who Should Abstain

Furthermore, persons who suffer from the following conditions should not drink:

  • Conditions of the liver
  • Diabetes or pancreatitis
  • Family history of digestive system cancer
  • Stroke or heart disease
  • Alcoholism or family history of addiction

Certain medications are high-risk when combined with alcohol:

  • Anticoagulants
  • Diabetes medications
  • Beta blockers
  • Antihistamines
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Pain relievers such as aspirin or acetaminophen
  • Sleeping pills

Alcohol consumption should be a deliberate decision on the part of age-appropriate adults and one should weigh the pros and cons of drinking. Laws exist to protect the general populace from the effects of over-consumption of alcohol, to some degree. Those who drink moderately and responsibly may even see an increase in health benefits. However, drinking alcohol can also be detrimental for many and can spiral into addiction. Ask yourself: Can I drink moderately or do I have addictive tendencies?