Alcohol Makes Us Think We Have More Time

Gillian May
Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

I started drinking in my teen years — not only with my friends, but my family too. My family considered it a right of passage to have your first rum and coke in your teens. But once we have that first drink, we never stop drinking. I suspect that other alcoholic families have a similar culture. Birthdays, holidays, bad days, or good days — alcohol is always there to numb the pain or bring a false sense of comfort and joy.

The problem with alcohol, though, is you think you have time. You believe you have a whole life where you can drink and just enjoy it all. That’s a great fantasy, but it rarely works out that way, especially for alcoholics.

The other thing that happened in my family (and I suspect for other alcoholic families) is that there comes the point when all the magic of alcohol fails everyone. It begins around the mid-’40s after decades of drinking — nervous system problems, digestive upset, headaches, mental illness, and failing health and vitality.

What began as a way to have fun and relax can turn dark around the middle years. Alcohol slowly erodes the body and mind until it becomes an enemy and not salve. But by that time, the alcohol has twisted your brain and nervous system enough that you still believe it is your best friend and faithful companion.

Most of us who have ever consumed a lot of alcohol figure there’s always time to enjoy it, time to ‘whoop it up.’ But over the years, we start losing time faster than others who don’t drink as much. For some of us, we don’t even realize that the time is almost gone.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 15 million US citizens over 12 years old have an alcohol use disorder. An estimated 95,000 Americans die every year from alcohol abuse. Between 2006 and 2014, alcohol-related emergency department visits went up by 47%. These statistics are startling and suggest that alcohol use has become a severe problem in the US.

Heavy drinking, which is more than 8 drinks per week for a woman and more than 15 drinks per week for a man, can cause serious health issues that can become chronic and disabling. Not only can it affect our physical health, but it affects our mental health considerably. In fact, alcohol abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand.

Alcohol abuse can age the brain and cause significant nervous system dysfunction. Withdrawals can cause life-threatening seizures at the worst. At the least, alcohol erodes the brain causing memory problems, lowered cognition, and balance issues. Thiamine, a vitamin we need to help our nervous system, is constantly deficient with heavy alcohol use. Thiamine deficiency can cause serious nervous system issues as well as heart problems.

Alcohol abuse significantly contributes to the formation of diabetes, vascular issues, heart problems, liver damage, and the possibility of serious accidents.Just this week, an alcoholic friend of mine died from falling in his home. I’m sure that many people have a story or two of someone they know losing their life to alcohol.

All of us likely began drinking in our teens years, as I did, and we always think we have so much time to drink and be merry. But we rarely put two and two together when alcohol slowly begins to degrade how our bodies and minds function. Then we realize that maybe we don’t have much time at all.

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I'm a former nurse turned freelance writer. I have extensive experience in administration, frontline care, and education in mental health, public health, and geriatrics. However, after 20 years, I needed a change and always wanted to write. I have personal and family experience in mental health and addictions, so I'm passionate about advocacy and education in those areas. I'm also a traveler, photographer, and artist. I funnel all my various expertise into my writing and hope to provide valuable content that is entertaining and educational. Join my email list if you want to read more of my work -


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