If you find yourself questioning your decision to go alcohol-free, let this article be a helpful reminder of why you are doing your body, soul, mind, and LIFE a considerable favor. Or, even better, let this article be the inspirational jumping point for you to take the first step towards alcohol-free living. This article seeks to shed some honest light on how the effects of chronic use of alcohol go far beyond spending too much money, not getting enough sleep, and losing out on the important little things that make up our lives.
Alcohol, when consumed in excess, can have severe consequences on our physical and mental health. On a physical level, frequent use of alcohol can take a toll on the liver. The liver plays a central role in metabolizing alcohol–it breaks booze down into less harmful substances. The problem is that when we drink a lot (and frequently), we reach a point where the amount of alcohol entering our system becomes too much for our liver. We max out our liver’s capacity to process this toxin, which can lead to liver damage. That is why people who chronically abuse alcohol can end up with health issues such as fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis, which can be life-threatening. According to the National Institutes for Health in 2022, “the incidence of cirrhosis is expected to triple by the year 2030 due to the rising prevalence of ALD as well as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)” However, the liver is just one problem. Alcohol also takes a toll on the cardiovascular system. Issues like high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease can surface.
Another central area that suffers from chronic use of alcohol is our mental health. When you consistently depress your central nervous system, anxiety and depression are often the result. This is ironic because most people think drinking will relax them. This is the bait-and-switch trap of alcohol. Many may feel an initial euphoria or feeling of relaxation, but the effects of alcohol actually cause stress, anxiety, and depression. The National Library of Medicine shares studies supporting the connection between prolonged alcohol use and stress, anxiety, and depression due to “producing persistent dysregulation of brain reward and stress systems” (Influence of Stress Associated with Chronic Alcohol Exposure on Drinking). In other words, alcohol blurs the line between relaxation and dependency and creates a cycle of emotional turbulence, fueling the very conditions it initially seems to alleviate.
Beyond the tendency to cause anxiety and depression, prolonged heavy drinking also impacts the brain’s ability to function overall. Problem drinking disrupts the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to mood disorders and exacerbating existing mental health conditions. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to memory impairment, difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk of dementia.
If you aren’t concerned about your liver, your heart, or your mental health, there are still a few more areas to explore when it comes to why alcohol is bad news. Impaired coordination and judgment under the influence of alcohol significantly contributes to the risk of accidents, falls, and other injuries. Drunk driving is rampant (I was recently in prolonged traffic due to a lengthy police blockade checking for drunk drivers over Thanksgiving), and alcohol plays a significant role when it comes to violence and crime.
There is also a myriad of poor decisions we make when drinking that can injure ourselves or others (I read about a drunk woman at a party who dove off the dock to take an evening dip… the problem was that it was in Florida alligator country). Impaired reasoning is a real thing when it comes to alcohol (think awkward “one-night stands” or DUIs). Sadly, making bad decisions while under the influence not only endangers the person consuming alcohol but also poses a threat to those around them. Excessive use of alcohol can also strain or destroy our relationships, and it can cause deep feelings of loneliness and isolation. Alcohol abuse can affect the essential foundations of our lives, leading to possible job loss or contributing to financial problems. The bottom line is that when we keep drinking despite the negative consequences, the problems will continue to add up.
Alcohol use can have devastating effects on our lives, affecting our physical health, relationships, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, in addition, the most significant area of loss happens in our relationship with God. It’s not possible to cultivate a deep connection with God while spending significant amounts of our time, energy, and headspace maintaining a habit like excessive use of alcohol. The good news is that God has a better plan for us, and we can step off the roller coaster and choose a different path. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) reminds us, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has unique plans for ALL of us, but sometimes, we need help getting back on track. If that resonates with you, then please reach out for ways we can help get you started on your path to freedom from alcohol by visiting www.theplanshehasforme.com.
In conclusion, while moderate alcohol consumption may be feasible for some, the potential dangers of excessive drinking should not be underestimated. The line between reasonable and excessive drinking can be thin, and the risks associated with heavy alcohol consumption are substantial. From liver damage and cardiovascular issues to mental health concerns and the societal impact of alcohol-related incidents, the drawbacks of alcohol misuse are far-reaching. Furthermore, the soul-crushing experience of worshiping a substance and giving it too much control can be very damaging to our identity in Christ. Thankfully, the more we understand the risks and face them honestly, the more we can earnestly decide if alcohol really is a relationship we want to continue or if there is something remarkably better waiting just around the corner when we choose alcohol free.
If you are having difficulties staying the course alcohol free, check out the Choose Alcohol-Free Program at https://theplanshehasforme.com/individual/. This program, in combination with using the daily devotional will help you stay the course by delivering the 12 most important biblically-based concepts for alcohol freedom.