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  • From 1920 to 1933, the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the United States. 

    The Prohibition movement ended in failure, and today there are a range of economic, social, and cultural reasons why alcohol remains available for adult purchase and consumption.

    But, just because alcohol is legal, highly accessible, and celebrated does not mean that it cannot be harmful.

    Here are five arguments that can be made for why alcohol should still be illegal in the United States.

    1. Alcohol Is Addictive

    Alcohol is a drug. It’s a central nervous system depressant with psychoactive properties, and it is addictive.

    How addictive alcohol is depends on the individual, their genetics and upbringing, and other social and environmental factors. 

    But, according to a 2015 study funded by the National Institutes of Health, 29.1% of Americans will meet the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder at some point in their lives, and 13.9% met the criteria in the previous year.

    Heavy drinkers may develop physical dependence, leading to potentially severe or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking all at once. These symptoms can include tremors, blood pressure changes, trouble sleeping, hallucinations, and seizures.

    And for those who do stop, maintaining sobriety is often a lifelong struggle.

    2. Alcohol Abuse Is Harmful To Your Health

    Alcohol overdose (alcohol poisoning) can be fatal. If too much alcohol is absorbed from the digestive system into the bloodstream following binge drinking, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature can fall to dangerous levels, causing brain damage and organ failure.

    But, this isn’t the only way that alcohol causes harm.

    Long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to serious health issues including high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, dementia, depression, and anxiety.

    Alcohol also has devastating negative effects when consumed by pregnant mothers. Even drinking only a moderate amount of alcohol can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome or a greatly increased risk of miscarriage or serious developmental issues.  

    3. Use Of Alcohol Compromises Judgement

    Many of us have stories of the adventures and mistakes we’ve made under the influence of alcohol. But too often, given its ability to suppress one’s inhibitions, the over-consumption of alcohol ends in stark tragedy.

    In particular, binge drinking is commonly associated with cases of:

    • drunk driving and car accidents
    • drownings
    • domestic violence
    • financial imprudence
    • risky sex
    • rape
    • violent crime
    • other severe accidents

    And in the long term, heavy drinking can erode your relationships with family members, deaden your ability to feel pleasure from natural sources, and steal your motivation to study, work, and prosper.

    4. Alcohol Is A Gateway Drug

    A gateway substance is one that leads to the abuse of harder/more harmful drugs.

    According to a 2012 investigation, alcohol, not tobacco or marijuana, is the primary gateway drug leading to other substances and illegal drug use among underage Americans.

    And, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health, 55.3% of high school seniors (all under legal drinking age) have used alcohol in the past year.

    This figure is especially concerning because, as with cannabis, alcohol use is known to have harmful developmental effects on children and teenagers, negatively impacting problem solving and memory. 

    5. Alcohol Does Not Solve The Real Issues In Your Life

    Many who drink alcohol do so as an escape, to mask negative feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety with intoxication and artificial feelings of well-being.

    But abusing alcohol only makes these issues worse in the long run. 

    As alcohol use and dependence escalate, they can lead to a spiral of increasingly negative feelings and compulsive substance abuse with no easy way out. This may continue until you’re drinking alcohol because you feel like you have to, not because you want to.

    Treatment For Alcohol Use Disorder

    If you struggle with problematic drinking, help is available.  

    Substance abuse treatment centers host programs that can help you:

    • safely detox and manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms
    • address co-occurring mental health disorders including anxiety and depression
    • develop stress-management and coping mechanisms to help maintain your sobriety
    • consider why you’ve had difficulties with drinking in the past and make helpful changes to those feelings and thought processes
    • connect with others also working through the rehabilitation process, for mutual support and encouragement

    For more information regarding inpatient or outpatient alcohol use disorder treatment programs, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT), please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2021 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Sources

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Alcohol Use and Your Health
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - NIH study finds alcohol use disorder on the increase
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - What are symptoms of alcohol use disorder?
    PubMed - Alcohol as a gateway drug: a study of US 12th graders
    PubMed - Harmful Alcohol Use

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on August 25, 2022
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