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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Positive and Negative effects of Alcohol Use

This page abstract: Alcohol can have effects which people regard as positive or negative.

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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Positive and Negative effects of Alcohol Use

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Question(s): 
Written by: Wendy Moelker, Psychologist in charge, tutor, Emergis center for mental health care, Goes, the Netherlands.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 17 Oct 2012.

What are the positive and negative effects of alcohol use?

Answer:

The positive and negative effects of alcohol are listed below.

Positive:

In the case of moderate use, alcohol has positive effects. You can get livelier, easier and relaxed. You can talk more easily and feel less tired.

According to some researchers, moderate alcohol use protects against cardiovascular diseases. This means a maximum of 2-3 glasses of wine or beer a day for men, and 1 to 2 glasses a day for women.

Socially, some people claim that it also has positive effects. It provides a lot of employment in the production, catering and retail of products and services in which alcohol plays a part. Also, people claim that alcoholic beverages helps people socialize.

Negative:

Excessive alcohol use increases the risk of a number of diseases: fatty degeneration of the liver, infection of the liver, liver cirrhosis (More), sleeping disorders, sexual problems, infection of the esophagus, infection of the stomach, infection of the pancreas, premature dementia, varying from a reduction of memory to the serious syndrome of Korsakoff; cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, intestines and breasts; hypertension and heart problems. Alcohol is also damaging during pregnancy. Also alcohol takes its toll in traffic.

Alcohol plays an important role in aggression. 40% of all incidents involving aggression occur while under the influence of alcohol. The police spend 22% of their time on cases involving alcohol. Violence on the streets and domestic violence while under the influence of alcohol happen often.

Also at work, alcohol has big consequences. 13% of all employees on sick leave have alcohol problems. Employees with alcohol problems produce at least 10% less work than their colleagues.

Alcohol can make people irresponsible; for example, getting pregnant in circumstances where they are unable to care for a child.

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