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Ethanol, otherwise known as alcohol, has been around since the dawn of time. At least as old as the fermented sugars it’s derived from are. Whether celebrating, mourning or just completely trying to mask your feelings to hide from life, alcohol has been an acceptable liquid to sip on since that dawn of time(minus a brief Prohibition hiccup in the early 1900s).

Booze provides this euphoria that allows us to forget our mortality for a few moments as we feel on top of the world. What’s not to like about that? Seems fun, but then take that fun beverage and put it in the hands of some of the best fun havers in the world. You know, the ones that abuse the fun to a point where it’s not anymore. What could go wrong? It might create hangovers- a “big deal”. It does cause complete loss of control too- “so what”. It’s also responsible for many drunk driving accidents and premature loss’ of life everywhere- “who cares, it’s not happening to me right now”. Alcohol in the possession of an alcoholic is gasoline to the fire. The flames will burn until everything is ash and the fire has extinguished itself own self from lack of oxygen. Only part of that statement is meant to be a metaphor too.

Alcoholics will guzzle alcohol down to the point where their entire being becomes dependent upon it. Our internal organs could potentially be shutting down from over-saturation, and still, all we’ll think about is knocking back more of that liquid courage. There’s never enough of it, and unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration either. The saying goes, “One is too many, and a thousand is never enough”. However, that’s just one end of the spectrum- the alcoholic end. What about those that only partake here and there? The ones that don’t aren’t inflicted with alcoholic thinking but still drink on occasion. Are their non-alcoholic drinking patterns still harmful? Is grandpa’s old cough medicine bad for everybody?

Harm From Non-Alcoholic Drinking Patterns
Whoever said that “a glass of red wine a day is healthy” was clearly only looking at antioxidant properties and not really at the big picture of things. Studies suggest that alcohol, when consumed at moderate levels, may have some health benefits. Still, there are many reasons why non-alcoholic drinking patterns are harmful to the average person.

When a person consumes alcohol beyond moderate levels, it can have damaging effects on the brain and body, temporarily and/or permanently. Some of those effects, like slurred speech or diminished memory, belong to the first option right there. Others like long-term cellular damage, or kidney issues won’t be gone the next day just from sleeping it off. These are some of the more permanent factors that even some non-alcoholic drinking patterns can manifest. A few other health problems that can occur from drinking too much alcohol might include:

Brain Damage/Strokes/Aneurysms
Permanent Memory Loss
Cirrhosis of the Liver/Destruction of
Heart Disease/Circulatory System Complications

Too Much to Drink, Too Much to Think
New studies show alcohol consumption is connected to a heightened risk of a faster decline in mental health and function. The burn that the fermented beverage causes going down your gullet happens to also be slowly burning away gray matter upstairs.

When we end up disappearing from consciousness like in a blackout, many aspects of our brains are affected by this excessive drinking. Usually, these blackouts are due to alcohol blocking certain receptors in our brains while disrupting all sorts of communication between different parts of the mind. The same occurs with moderate non-alcoholic drinking patterns but just at a slower rate.

Mind Over Matter?
Whatever the occasion, we love the feeling of numbness that it provides; a distraction from reality. Most people don’t drink because alcohol tastes good and they prefer it to water. They drink to achieve a feeling or a loss of one. However, when something is liked too much, dependency can crawl out of any dark crevice- alcoholic or not. There is after all a difference between the user, the abuser, and the alcoholic. Anybody’s habits can unexpectedly turn into tolerance as they find themselves in a caucus race to stay ahead of their non-alcoholic drinking patterns. Nobody wakes up to proudly admit they’re an alcoholic; it was never the end game. Yet it happens, and 9 times out of 10 the alcoholic doesn’t understand how they got there.

At some point or another, we will try to justify our looney actions/thoughts of controlled drinking, depending on where we are on the spectrum. The list of rationalizations will roll in as we validate every reason we can for why our behaviorisms are non-alcoholic drinking patterns and not those of chemical dependency. But at the end of the day, what’s the difference between alcoholic thinking and always thinking about alcohol?

Such an abstract question provides only a theoretical answer that often depends solely on how much one is willing to observe themselves. Non-alcoholic drinking patterns can open up the floodgates for possibilities of misery down the road, or it can be a simple vice depending on the individual. Alcohol isn’t always a bad thing, it’s just often misused while being put into irresponsible hands. Then again, alcohol even eliminates rational inclination in even the wisest of souls. Drink at your own risk.