Hidden dangers of alcohol: What you need to know

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of Americans aged 18 and older regularly consume alcohol. And nearly 17% of adults binge drink. But too much alcohol can cause more problems than you might realize.

Alcohol used to be a big part of Veronica Valli’s life.

“My drinking was very chaotic and dangerous from when I was about 15 years old,” Valli said.

Like many, Valli accepted her excessive drinking until she realized it was holding her back.

Research shows about 15 million Americans struggle with an alcohol use problem, but only 10% receive help. Excessive alcohol use is linked to an increased risk of injuries, chronic diseases, cancer, and poor pregnancy outcomes.

“People can spend 10 years from the moment they wake up and think, ugh I need to stop drinking to actually stopping,” Valli said.

Pain is another side effect of alcohol. More than half of people with an alcohol use disorder experience some type of persistent pain. In a new British study, researchers found chronic alcohol consumption may make people more sensitive to pain through two different molecular mechanisms: one driven by alcohol intake and one driven by alcohol withdrawal.

“I discovered everything I thought about sobriety and drinking was completely wrong. So, I thought sobriety was boring. That’s what our culture tells us,” Valli said.

Valli finally decided to get sober at age 27 -- and hasn’t looked back.

“The number one thing I want people to know is that when you stop drinking you don’t give up anything, you don’t miss out on anything, just the opposite,” Valli said.

Now, she’s a recovery coach and therapist helping others break free from alcohol addiction.

Valli said the No. 1 mistake people make when trying to stop drinking is doing it alone. She said it’s important to find a community of support.