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4 unexpected ways alcohol might be affecting your life

Statistics indicate that alcohol consumption levels in Ireland are consistently high. Many of us will be aware of the negative effects alcohol can have on society as a whole, as well as in personal lives and families. Serious issues like dependency, addiction, heart disease, cancer and self-harm are all linked to high consumption of alcohol.

But what about the more everyday effects that alcohol might be having on your life? It might surprise you to learn that alcohol has relatively more minor but potentially far-reaching consequences on our mind and bodies. Let’s take a look. 

Anxiety

Many people mistakenly think that a few drinks will help with worries and social anxiety – but the opposite is the case. While alcohol reduces inhibitions, these effects are short-lived and may result in increased anxiety after drinking. It can be a slippery slope to rely on alcohol to relax or unwind, as the anxiety you feel when hungover is likely to increase in tandem with your intake. 

Hair and skin

Alcohol dehydrates us, so it’s understandable that this takes its toll on hair and skin. It can also cause broken capillaries in the skin and eyes, as well as worsen skin conditions that cause facial redness, like rosacea. It also causes bloating, which may affect your face’s appearance too.

Sports performance 

Drinking has a negative effect on next day’s athletic performance for two reasons – one, because alcohol causes dehydration and secondly because it affects how your body makes energy. This means that overall, your coordination, concentration and agility are affected the day after drinking, which has knock-on effects for performance. 

Digestive system 

Heavy drinking can lead to bloating, gas and diarrhoea or vomiting. Alcohol consumption can also trigger heartburn. These issues, if experienced frequently, can lead to more serious digestive issues over time.

Some coping strategies 

If you’d like to cut down on your alcohol consumption, there are a few handy tips that can make it a lot easier. For example:

  • Track your intake – calculate how much you’re actually drinking and see how it stacks up against recommended guidelines
  • Cut down by having a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink
  • Try some social ideas that reduce or remove alcohol consumption, alcohol-free nights out, low-alcohol drinks, Sober October, mocktails and alcohol-free dinner parties

If you’re concerned about the effect drinking alcohol may be having on you, speak to your GP. Check out drinkaware.ie for more information on responsible alcohol consumption.