When does drinking alcohol become abusing alcohol?

When does drinking alcohol become abusing alcohol?
When does drinking alcohol become abusing alcohol?
Posted at 5:44 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 13:27:22-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The autopsy of FSU fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey revealed he died of alcohol poisoning, with a blood alcohol level nearly seven times the legal limit for driving.

When does drinking alcohol become abusing alcohol? The answer is different for everyone, based on a number of factors, but what's the same is realizing your limits and understanding how going past that puts you in danger.

Capital Regional Medical Center says it frequently sees patients in the emergency room with alcohol-related issues, from injuries from falls to nausea, dehydration and vomiting from drinking too much. It's also possible heavy drinking can lead to cirrhosis, dependence and addiction.

Physician assistant Anna Snell describes how drinking affects the body at first, and then if it continues, it affects your brain.

"Right away, it will affect your brain. It affects your cerebellum, so you start becoming off-balance, and then you increase your risk for falls," said Snell. "You lower your normal inhibition, which is why we'll start seeing more fights and more types of behaviors that you wouldn't typically see otherwise. And then, of course, the effects that it does to your liver, just destroys your liver. You don't have to be a drinker for 20 or 30 years."

Snell says a person's environment also plays a role in possible alcohol abuse.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports around 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes every year, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the country.