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Alcoholism: Is there a Difference Between Beer, Wine and Hard Liquor?

Alcoholism remains an epidemic in the U.S. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says 16.3 million adults were diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2014. Whether alcohol is used to battle the symptoms of a psychological disorder, cope with work or relationships, or to ease pain or stress from a traumatic event, it can become a chronic addiction if individuals do not seek effective treatment.

Many people may not know the harmful effects alcohol can have. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says excessive alcohol use causes approximately 88,000 deaths per year. The consequences of alcohol abuse can negatively impact a person’s livelihood, can make it difficult to maintain daily responsibilities and meaningful relationships, and can cause premature death.

Alcoholism is a disease that ultimately harms individuals emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Alcohol – beer, wine, and liquor – is a depressant that affects the central nervous system and impairs a person’s judgement and behavior. But how harmful are the different types of alcohol? Do they affect us differently? Is one more powerful, or addictive than the others?

Beer, wine, and liquor can all have debilitating effects on the user. Understanding the severe consequences alcohol can have on the mind and body will help you or someone you love seek treatment to overcome the disorder.

Binge-Drinking

Moderate drinking in social settings with friends or family can be normal. The moderate drinking level is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Yet when drinking socially or drinking to release stress becomes a habit, individuals may engage in binge drinking behaviors and may become addicted.

Binge drinking is categorized by drinking in excessive amounts in a very short period of time. For men, it is typically when they consume more than 5 drinks in two hours. For women, it is when they consume more than 4 drinks in two hours. When these binge drinking behaviors persist multiple times a month, it can cause a serious chemical dependence on the drug and can lead to addiction. [1] Whether individuals choose beer, wine, or liquor, they can all lead to lifelong addiction and a multitude of health consequences.

Alcohol Addiction: Beer

Beer is most commonly made from the fermentation of barley or other grains. Often, hops are added to beer to act as a preserving agent and flavor booster. A typical serving is about 12 ounces of beer. In comparison to wine and liquor, beer has the least amount of alcohol content with 5% in a single serving, but the serving size (12 ounces) is larger than a normal wine serving or a mixed drink, making the one-drink alcohol content roughly equivalent to wine and hard alcohol.

A normal serving of beer while watching a football game or enjoying time with friends can be enjoyable for many people. Yet, when individuals drink more than the recommended limit and display symptoms of dependence on beer, it can be extremely dangerous to their health.

Alcohol Addiction: Wine

Wine is made from fermented grapes and is often paired with a specific type of food or meal at social events. In contrast to beer, the typical serving size of wine is 5 fluid ounces and contains about 12% alcohol.

For some people, wine is typically used as the beverage of choice during social gatherings and dinner parties with family and friends. Research has shown that women and millennials have become the largest consumers of wine and therefore, the target audience for wine marketers.[2] Because wine has alcohol in it, a person is just as susceptible to becoming addicted to it as other forms of alcohol.

Alcohol Addiction: Liquor

In comparison to beer and wine, liquor contains the highest alcohol content of the three beverages. Examples of liquor include tequila, gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum. A typical serving size of liquor is 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits which contains about 40% alcohol.

Liquor can be extremely dangerous because it is often masked in larger drinks such as soda or juice. This can make it easier for individuals to consume drastically more alcohol in a very short period of time.

Consequences of Alcohol Addiction

Whether a person drinks beer, wine, or liquor addiction, eac form can have extremely harmful health effects on the user. Not only do all impair a person’s ability to make rational decisions, they can also put the lives of others in danger if individuals are pregnant or choose to drive while under the influence.

If alcohol addiction goes untreated, the physical effects of alcohol dependence can lead to a lifetime of health related problems that increase the likelihood of premature death. Alcohol negatively impacts the body’s main organs and weakens the body’s immune system which ultimately makes it more susceptible to diseases and infections.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the following are the physical effects of prolonged alcohol abuse:

Brain

  • Impairs memory
  • Disrupts neuronal pathways
  • Blurred vision
  • Slows reaction time
  • Impairs decision making
  • Difficulty walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Produces blackouts

Heart

  • Causes stretching  and drooping of heart muscle (Cardiomyopathy)
  • Causes an irregular heartbeat (Arrhythmias)
  • Induces a stroke
  • High blood pressure

Liver

  • Fatty liver (Steatosis)
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Pancreas

  • Pancreatitis (inflammation and swelling of blood vessels in pancreas)

Cancer

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to an increased likelihood of developing the following cancers:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Throat
  • Liver
  • Breast

Seeking faith-based treatment for alcoholism

At Covenant Hills, the dedicated staff understand the emotional and physical toll alcohol abuse can have on the mind, body, and spirit. In addition to the multiple negative physical consequences of prolonged alcohol abuse, individuals who abuse beer, wine, or liquor may also have a co-occurring disorder such as depression, PTSD, or anxiety. With an understanding that multiple social and environmental factors contribute to alcohol abuse, the professional staff of therapists, counselors, and pastors help individuals understand their addiction and connect them closer to God.

Covenant Hills offers a 12-step Christian-based treatment program that is built on the original 12-step guidelines from Alcoholics Anonymous. With an emphasis on whole-person care to detoxify the mind, body, and spirit from alcohol toxins, individuals will learn the strategies needed to maintain lifelong abstinence. Treatment plans are individually designed using research-based techniques and a spiritual understanding that God will restore the person’s willpower and strength to battle addiction. With comprehensive program options and a spiritual foundation, individuals will understand the depths of their addiction and will rise above by reconstructing a new self-concept that incorporates God’s Teachings and cultivates self-compassion.

Do you or a loved one need help today? Please call us 24/7 for a free, confidential assessment at (800) 662-2873.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

[2] http://www.winemag.com/2016/01/27/wine-market-council-defines-the-industrys-latest-trends/

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