Most people who drink will largely defend drinking as a helpful tool in their lives. Although alcohol can seem like it helps us, in the end it really doesn’t. I’ve written many times about the research that shows how dangerous alcohol is for our health. But most people choose to ignore that information in exchange for the dysfunctional ways they think alcohol “helps” them.
Let’s go through some of the popular reasons people choose to drink and talk about why alcohol doesn’t really help at all.
True, the first few drinks do indeed feel relaxing. The way that alcohol acts upon the nervous system causes a sense of relaxation in the beginning. However, over time and with increased drinks, the opposite actually happens. Due to its effects on certain neurotransmitters, alcohol actually primes the nervous system for excitation. This means when alcohol is removed, the body goes into a highly anxious state. Anyone who drinks knows what happens in the dreaded hangover; it’s certainly the opposite of relaxation.
Unfortunately, the more that a person drinks, the worse this over-excited nervous system gets. And the only way to maintain this relaxed state is to drink more and more. Unfortunately, this is how alcoholism begins.
Many people tout the older research that says a bit of alcohol is good for the heart. Unfortunately, recent research debunks this idea. A Swedish study shows that most research showing alcohol as being beneficial to the heart had serious methodological flaws. Furthermore, those who didn’t drink had significantly better cardiovascular health. Lastly, the study shows that alcohol increases many biological markers for increased cardiovascular problems such raising blood pressure. It seems that the myth that alcohol is helpful to the heart is simply not true. Not only that, alcohol is a serious risk factor in other health issues like injuries, accidents, liver disease, diabetes, etc.
Many people like to drink because they think it gives them energy. This is far from the truth. Alcohol is a numbing agent for sure and can possibly trick the body into thinking it’s invincible. Although the first few drinks may feel invigorating, drinking more will definitely slow down the nervous system, which feels the opposite of energetic. In fact, heavy drinking can slow down the nervous system so much that it can actually be life-threatening.
True, the first few drinks can feel fun and make you think you’re more social than you are. But increased alcohol has a habit of turning good times into not so good times. Alcohol has been a cause of fights, emotional outbursts, alcohol poisoning, accidents, and severe hangovers. If a person is able to stick to the safe drinking guidelines (1 drink for a woman and 2 drinks for a man) then perhaps it can be used for celebration. However, most people in a celebratory mood rarely stick to the safe drinking guidelines and in this way, alcohol can actually be a downer rather than a fun thing to do.
Some people say that alcohol actually helps them focus on certain tasks that may be boring or something they don’t really want to do. While this may seem like the truth, alcohol is actually doing the opposite. It distracts a person from what they’re doing so they can actually tune out from it. That’s what alcohol does best — it acts as an escape mechanism. So while you think you can focus, you’re actually not watching what you’re doing and this can make for some pretty big errors in whatever task requires your attention.
Using alcohol as a social lubricator is a long-standing tradition. Many people who are otherwise shy, introverted, or socially awkward may use alcohol to feel less inhibited. While this may seem to work at first, it’s important to think about what kind of person you want to present yourself as. Alcohol changes people’s personality and as such, makes you into someone you’re not. Do you really want to change who you are to fit in with others? Over time, this can have a detrimental effect on your health and mental health and can affect the relationships you hold dear.
Drinking may seem like it’s helpful but it’s actually not. It can quickly become a dysfunctional tool in your life. It also has a serious effect on our physical and mental health. True, if you can follow the safe drinking guidelines put out by the CDC, then you may not veer into a dysfunctional use of alcohol. But these 6 dysfunctional reasons why people think alcohol helps don’t usually lend themselves to safe drinking. Often, people overdo it in the quest to be more social, to celebrate, relax, have more fun, or even because they think it helps their health.
The truth is, alcohol doesn’t help in any way. And some recent studies show that even low-dose alcohol is not even that great for us either. If you drink, it’s worth examining your reasons and re-thinking your motives. The truth is, most people feel better without alcohol in their lives.
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