It’s fair to say that we live in a booze-friendly culture. Turn on the TV, and you’ll see commercials for alcohol that make it look sexy and trendy. Go over to somebody’s house, and they’ll offer you a cold beer or a glass of wine. And organize a party, and everyone will expect drinks on tap.
Most people find the idea of taking drugs abhorrent, but few people have any issues with alcohol, despite its addictive tendencies in some individuals. It’s just a part of our culture.
And to be fair, for the majority of people, drinking is not an issue. In fact, it can be a fun part of life: sharing a glass of wine with your family over an evening meal is one of life’s pleasures.
But the drinking culture we have isn’t ideal. Yes, some people are living like French villagers, eating lentils, rosemary and mushrooms, all washed down with the local vintage red. But the majority of people are drinking in very different ways, mixing in lots of sugars, and doing so in far greater quantities than anyone could call healthy.
Have you ever been on an all-night bender? Have you ever wondered what it might be doing to your body? Let’s take a look!
The Short Term Effects Of Drinking Until 4 am
The average person’s liver can process about three standard drinks every hour. That translates to roughly three shots or a pint and a half of beer.
If you drink faster than that, the amount of alcohol in your blood will rise, and you’ll start to feel even more intoxicated. After a certain point, the amount of alcohol in the blood gets so high that basic things, like coordination, become impaired.
Excessive alcohol consumption can appear funny to outside observers. But it leads to all kinds of risks. One of the main problems is people injuring themselves while out in the town. It’s easy for an intoxicated person to leave the group, lose their balance, fall into water, and drown. Drunk people also have poor executive control; they’re not able to make good decisions. That’s why drunks are so much more likely to get into fights, and fights can turn nasty.
What about the physiological effects? Let’s say that you start drinking at six in the evening and then continue until four the following day. After ten hours, you could quite easily have consumed thirty units or about three bottles of wine. The effects on your body from that quantity of alcohol can be extreme.
The main effects are felt in the organs responsible for processing the alcohol: the liver, the stomach, and the pancreas. People who drink a significant amount in one session risk inflaming those organs, leading to pain and potentially life-threatening consequences.
Getting injured while intoxicated is also a significant problem. If you fall over or get into a fight, then your body is less able to clot wounds, leading to more blood loss than usual.
What many people do not realize, though, is that just a single night of binge drinking can also increase the risk of sudden death. This is one of the reasons why organizations like Stop Drinking Expert are so concerned with people who drink to excess: it puts individuals at a much higher risk of heart failure. Alcohol interferes with the signal from the brain, which can produce an irregular heartbeat or total cardiac arrest.
Finally, drinking to excess can take a toll on your sexual health. People who drink a lot are much more likely to engage in risky sexual activities, putting them at a higher risk of infection, some of which can be life-changing. Drinking more than you should make it less likely that you will take precautions and increases the chance of pregnancy.
The Long Term Effects Of Drinking Until 4 am
The effects of a single night of excessive drinking will generally fade over time. One party will not wreck your health forever. But what happens if you stay up until 4 am drinking once or twice a week, every week? Is that safe?
Experts at the University of California don’t think so. They found that just 21 binge-drinking sessions across seven weeks were enough to induce liver disease, suggesting that people who drink long-term are putting their health at risk. What’s interesting is that the effects appear to be worse when there are a few heavy drinking sessions, compared to many smaller ones more spread out over the week. Drinking forty units a week is probably a bad idea, but it’s better to have half a bottle of wine per night than to drink two bottles of wine on two nights.
Experts also believe that excessive drinking can increase the chances that somebody will develop cancer. Cancers associated with drink tend to form around areas that come into contact with alcohol, suggesting that it’s not the quantity of alcohol that you drink that counts, but whether it comes into contact with your body in the first place. Common alcohol-related cancers include cancers of the tongue, mouth, throat, stomach, voice box, colon, and rectum. When it comes to cancer, it may be better to drink less frequently to reduce overall exposure.
Alcohol can also have a nasty effect on the gut bacteria that live in the colon. People rely on the bacteria in their guts to keep their bowels healthy and churn out beneficial chemicals, like short-chain fatty acids. But when you load your system with alcohol, you change the food available to these critters, selecting instead for microorganisms that may harm your body. Researchers have found that when people drink, it adjusts the flora in their gut and makes it more likely that they will develop conditions like irritable bowel disease.
We’re not saying that you can never drink again. But the question people need to ask themselves is, “is it worth it?” For many, it’s not. It’s better to have the information than to live in ignorance.