Alcohol Is Legal, so Why Is Drinking a Problem An Alcohol Rehab in Arizona Weighs In

Alcohol Is Legal, so Why Is Drinking a Problem? An Alcohol Rehab in Arizona Weighs In

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The legal status of alcohol makes it seem like alcohol use is less problematic than the use of other substances. While heavy drinking may not necessarily get you in trouble with the law if you stay home, alcohol can have devastating effects on your brain, body, and behavior, and you may not be able to stop on your own if you develop a drinking problem. Seeking the help of alcohol rehab in Arizona may be the first step on your road to alcohol recovery.

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The fact is that alcohol can be just as dangerous as illegal substances. But to understand the effects that alcohol has, we first need to understand how it affects people when they start drinking.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

When you drink alcohol, you may experience effects such as drowsiness, lowered anxiety and inhibition, and a slight feeling of euphoria. These effects occur as a result of how alcohol affects the brain. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, signaling the brain to slow down, relax, and take it easy.

Effects and Risks of Alcohol

The brain has a neurotransmitter that sends the same signal, called GABA. When alcohol enters your bloodstream and crosses the blood-brain barrier, the effects of the natural GABA levels in the brain are significantly enhanced.1 At the same time, alcohol reduces the effect of the brain’s excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate.

Alcohol also stimulates the dopamine pathway within the brain, which has been linked to addictive substances of all kinds, including drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine. This can lead people to return to alcohol use over and over again, which can lead to a drinking problem.

Behavioral Problems With Alcohol Use

The wide-reaching effects of alcohol use on the brain translate directly to changes in how you feel and think. While this leads to many effects that people find desirable about alcohol use, it can also create several unwanted outcomes. Some of the more common negative effects of alcohol use include:

Behavioral problems with alcohol use.

Essentially, alcohol use reduces people’s ability to think things through or make rational decisions. It creates a sense of short-sightedness — what researchers call alcohol myopia — which can lead to people making poor decisions, getting swept up in intense emotions, and acting in ways they never would if they were not under the influence of alcohol.2

Legal Problems With Alcohol Use

Although alcohol use is not a crime so long as you are of legal drinking age, it nonetheless is associated with a number of legal problems. The poor judgment and decision-making abilities that are a direct effect of alcohol use can lead to any number of legal problems, the most common of which include:

  • Driving under the influence
  • Underage drinking
  • Domestic violence
  • Drinking on the job

Consuming Alcohol isn't a Crime, but Reduced Inhibitions and Impaired judgment cause problems.

Alcohol use has generally been associated with an increased likelihood of a person committing a crime, particularly violent crime.The reduced inhibitions and impaired judgment stemming from alcohol use mean that even if people aren’t breaking the law by drinking alcohol, they put themselves at higher risk of committing crimes as a consequence of their alcohol use.

Health Issues Related to Alcohol

In addition to how alcohol affects the brain, it can have a number of harmful effects on the body. Alcohol is broken down in the liver, a metabolically intense process that puts immense strain on the body’s primary organ for detoxification. As such, alcohol use is associated with a number of different liver problems, including:

  • Alcoholic fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis

But the health effects of alcohol don’t stop there. Alcohol is a known carcinogen and is the cause of several different cancers. It can also increase your risk of stroke or heart disease and can lead to kidney damage.

Is Any Amount of Alcohol Healthy?

Despite the mountains of evidence on the negative effects of alcohol, you’ll often see news reports or hear morning talk show hosts talk about the positive health effects of drinking in moderation. It’s a common belief that red wine is good for your heart and that moderate drinking is healthier than not drinking at all.

health and alcohol

All of these health-related effects come from the “J-curve” that’s often seen when comparing the overall health of drinkers vs. non-drinkers. People who abstain entirely often have shorter life spans than those who drink in moderation, while those with a drinking problem have the shortest life spans overall.

However, researchers have recently called this data into question for a simple reason: many people who abstain from alcohol do so for medical reasons.4 They may have had a drinking problem in the past, have health conditions that lead them to choose not to drink, or take medications that are contraindicated with alcohol use.

And while red wine does contain a chemical that can improve heart health, resveratrol, the amount of wine you’d need to drink to receive these benefits is enormous. You can get the same benefits from eating a handful of grapes with none of the health risks of drinking.

Recognizing a Drinking Problem

If you think you or a loved one has developed a drinking problem, an alcohol rehab in Arizona may be able to help. First, consider whether you’re showing any of the symptoms of alcoholism:

  • An inability to stop on your own
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop drinking
  • Loss of interest in activities outside of alcohol use
  • Craving alcohol
  • Worsening mental or physical health as a result of alcohol use
  • Continued alcohol use despite mounting consequences
  • A high tolerance for alcohol

Symptoms of a drinking problem.

All of these are signs that you’ve developed a problematic relationship with alcohol, and you may not be able to quit on your own. In severe cases, quitting alcohol can be dangerous, as the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol can lead to seizures, hallucinations, and sometimes death. Medical supervision can help you clear your body of alcohol safely and manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorders with Alcohol Rehab in Arizona

Desert Cove Recovery’s alcohol rehab in Arizona has a number of different evidence-based treatment methods that can help you recover. From medical detox referrals to help people through the withdrawal stage to targeted mental health treatments that can teach you to resist cravings and temptations, we have the tools necessary to help you achieve recovery once and for all.

For more information about our alcohol rehab in Arizona, reach out to our team by filling out our confidential online contact form.