By Nicole King
Imagine waking up to a text message saying your best friend passed away last night from alcohol poisoning. Your heart instantly drops as a sudden feeling of misery floods your thoughts. Thousands of thoughts rush through your brain as tears fall down your face. Why is this happening? Why is alcohol so dangerous? According to the Public Health Agency, when you consume alcohol it goes directly into your bloodstream and then to your brain. Once it reaches the brain, it starts to affect your ability to control your words and movement. Within an hour, the alcohol will reach your liver and start to cause damage. This all occurs within one night, but the long term effects are treacherous. According to Howard County Paramedic, Dean Hall, their station “runs about 150 calls per year attending to teenagers who have consumed high levels of alcoholic substances”. Alcohol is the most widely used substance among America's youth, which results in major health risks.
Just one of the serious long term effects of alcohol is how it destroys your brain. Little do you know, alcohol is more destructive to the brains of young teenagers than adults. It may not sound accurate, but wait till you're crying on your bedroom floor begging for your best friend back. Due to alcohol being a central nervous system depressant, it depresses part of the brain that control inhibitions. According to Stephanie Watson, a scientist who studies the effects of alcohol, when alcohol reaches the brain, it immediately affects the level of neurotransmitters that give the brain the ability to speak, judge, and move normally. Without any neurotransmitters, people have no control over their bodies. As you were asleep last night, your best friend was unable to have control over her body due to the alcohol she consumed.
Your heart circulation is one of the most crucial body functions a human has, but can be damaged very easy by alcohol. Hypertension is a common result of alcohol consumption. Hypertension is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. When a person consumes alcohol, their heart muscles weaken, which results in a non-efficient level of pumping blood. According to the Public Health Agency, those who struggle with this disease are prone to heart attacks, strokes, and dementia. Overall, as the time passes, your heart will weaken or beat irregularly. As your heart battles to give keep you breathing, your whole body starts to deteriorate. Little did your best friend know that as she was partying last night, her heart was not getting the proper amounts of blood so it was unable to beat properly.
Many people know that alcohol has a major impact on your liver enzymes, but don't understand that these effects can lead to liver damage and even failure. Too much drinking causes a person's liver to become so enlarged that it may cause death. According to a United Kingdom based website which includes the effects of alcohol on one's liver, when your liver attempts to break down an alcoholic substance, a chemical reaction occurs which damages liver cells. Those who consume alcohol have a 25 percent increase in death from liver disease. Just think, as you were sound asleep last night, you best friends liver was rotting away from the alcohol she had consumed. She probably had no idea how much her body was suffocating from all that was inside her. This is the exact problem; no one knows until it is too late.
Lastly, people try to use alcohol to cope with their emotions, but it ends up resulting in depression, anxiety, and risk-taking behaviors. When you drink, the levels of serotonin in your brain are lowered from a chemical reaction. This causes a regulation in one's mood. Most people choose to drink for the temporary relief, but don't understand that in the future, they may have severe depression and anxiety that leads them to suicide. According to a United Kingdom based website, 27 percent of men and 19 percent of women self harm due to their intake of alcohol fluctuating with their emotions. Even if your best friend would have made it out of last night alive, she has a high chance of suffering mentally from not having the “high” feeling the alcohol gave her. Just one sip of alcohol can hook someone and make them keep wanting more. Then before they know it, they’re on the ground crying and wishing they weren’t alive.
Drinking, especially underage, is a serious public health problem many United States citizens struggle with everyday. Everyone gets carried away with the thought of wanting to look “cool” and forget the serious consequences. Looking “cool” to others is not worth someone's life. In an interview with Glenelg High School’s police officer, Steve Willingham stated “Alcohol use is something that will always be waiting for kids, but you do not need to rush it. Allow yourself to have four high school years that are alcohol free”. Next time you think about drinking, remember your best friend. Put the bottle down not only for them, but for all the people in your life that love you. Regardless of the age a person is while consuming alcohol, the consequences can affect everyone. If you suspect someone is going to overdose, don't hesitate to say something. Do not let anyone else in your community fall victim to the deadly effects of alcohol.