Re-thinking the risks of heavy drinking

In many places on the web, you can learn about the dangers of heavy drinking over time (defined as more than 7 drinks in a week for women; for men, more than 14).

Of course, there’s the chance of addiction to alcohol. But there are also health risks, including more than seven types of cancers. There are potential dangers that result from carelessness, like getting STDs from unprotected sex, or injuring yourself. There are also potential emotional health consequences, as drinking can worsen anxiety and depression.

But if you’re anything like us (before we quit), you underestimate the likelihood that any of these consequences will happen to you. After all, you’re smart, employed, have a good social support system, etc. These things just don’t happen to people like you. Right?

Well, we decided to do some Googling to put together a picture of how likely various risks are for heavy drinkers over time.

Here is a simple graphic to show what we found about the risk of serious disease (alcoholic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis), addiction, depression, missing work due to hangovers, and risk of injury due to a fall. There are many other risks for which we couldn’t find data about the overall prevalence among heavy drinkers, including increased anxiety, increased risk of violence and sexual violence, and the aforementioned seven cancers.

Take a look at the list, and see if heavy drinking seems worth it, all things considered. And if you’re ready to quit or cut back, we’d love to help. Download the app today!

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