Safe Alcohol Consumption is a Myth

Alcohol is the most socially acceptable substance use that takes place in society worldwide. Beers at a sporting event, wine pairings with dinner, and cocktails amongst friends are all activities that take place without a second thought. Advertisements on television, in magazines, on websites, and at live events consistently reinforce the idea that drinking is just something that we all do and that it should be embraced without question. Having a drink after work or to relieve stress isn’t frowned upon, and in America, many define their college experience as a young adult around the alcohol that is present in almost every social situation. However, a new study is demonstrating that drinking any amount of alcohol can be dangerous since it causes damage to the brain. 


This new study, an observational study conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford, demonstrated the dangerous relationship between alcohol intake and the human brain by studying the brain scans of individuals against their alcohol use. The study noted that drinking any amount of alcohol had an effect on the brain’s gray matter- regions in the human brain where information is processed. What the study concluded was that the more alcohol a person would drink, the less volume of gray matter was present in their brain. Less volume of gray matter impacts processing and memory. As a person ages, their brain volume naturally reduces, so the presence of alcohol makes the situation worse. Additionally, of all the modifiable risk factors that could impact an individual’s gray matter in their brain, alcohol was the greatest contributor. Modifiable risk factors are factors that a person can do something about, meaning they have control over how much the risk factor could impact them, their brain, and their overall health. 


A second, important fact discovered by this new study is that the type of alcohol someone ingests doesn’t matter. Beer, wine, or hard liquor all impacted the human brain similarly. Certain drinking patterns also had little effect on the negative consequences of alcohol intake, meaning no matter the individual’s drinking pattern the study found the gray matter in that individual’s brain was negatively impacted. Overall, the study found that there was no “safe” level of drinking. In layman’s terms, drinking any amount of alcohol was worse for the individual than not drinking any alcohol at all. 


This is just the latest study to determine that alcohol is unsafe for a person’s overall health. At its most basic form, alcohol is the psychoactive drug contained in all alcohol beverages. It is also, as mentioned previously, the most socially acceptable and common recreational substances. However, this study is just the latest to conclude that alcohol is unsafe for human consumption and can have far reaching effects on health. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in both men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide. 


While it is extremely naïve to think that studies such as this will have much of an impact in the way that Americans consume alcohol, it is important to point out the dangers of alcohol, especially with the rise in alcoholic beverage purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall rise in alcohol misuse, alcohol use disorder, and alcoholism that is seemingly impacting more Americans over the last year and a half. While society will continue to view alcohol as harmless and part of the everyday social aspects of society, more and more people are finding themselves having problems with alcohol. More and more Americans are meeting criteria for alcohol use disorder, and during the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans who considered themselves as never having a problematic relationship with alcohol, are seeking help as their drinking has become out of control. Even for those individuals who may not suffer from alcohol use disorder, problem drinking, or alcoholism, it is important to point out that even “safe” drinking is a myth, and that every alcoholic drink is having some negative impact on the health of their brain and their body. 


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at


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About the Author

Zach Snitzer

Zach Snitzer is the Corporate Director of Marketing at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center and is responsible for the business development, marketing, branding, public relations and social media strategies of the organization.