The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. In the U.S., the legal limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) for individuals 21 years and older is .08. The limit for individuals under 21 is .02. Every year more than 4,700 adolescents and teens die from underage drinking.
Alcohol is a mood-altering depressant and can fundamentally change a person - mentally and physically. Family history or genetics are just one factor that can lead to alcohol use disorder. Alcohol alters your brain's functioning. Therefore, most people that abuse alcohol or have an alcohol addiction suffer from serious social problems brought on by their drinking.
Since alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, over time, excessive alcohol use (in the form of heavy drinking and/or binge drinking) can lead to numerous health problems including chronic diseases, neurological impairments, and social problems. Liver failure is the most common damage, followed by the kidneys and other organs.
Binge drinking is the most common form of alcohol abuse in the United States. It is a serious problem on college campuses, with underage drinkers and even middle age adults. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of 5 or more drinks for men, 4 for women, in a two-hour period. A newer trend in binging drinking is the consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks and caffeinated beverages. Studies show these beverages can enhance the dangers of binge drinking. For example, drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks.
Alcohol poisoning is another result of binge drinking that can have fatal consequences. Common drinking behaviors on college campuses such as drinking games, chugging, mixing different types of alcohol consumed (i.e. switching between hard liquor and beer), not eating before going out and drinking more than one drink an hour all can lead to over-drinking and possibly alcohol poisoning.
Prolonged alcohol abuse also leads to changes in physical appearance. When you drink, alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream and distributed throughout your body. The serious damage excessive drinking inflicts on your organs and general health is widely known, but did you know that it can also change the appearance of your skin, hair, and even weight
Physical "red flags" of alcoholism (aside from the immediate withdrawal symptoms) include:
Evidence of aging more rapidly than usual, such as a sudden increase in wrinkles and age spots, noticeable decrease in personal hygiene such as showering and dental care.
There is a myriad of other unintentional injuries that can result from intoxication such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries. Alcohol is linked to causing other health hazards that damage your body and organs. Alcohol use disorder recovery is a journey and there are different forms of treatment available. If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, please see what resources and options are available.