Drinking too much alcohol, whether you do so over time or on one occasion, can have a serious negative impact on your health. Alcohol can affect numerous organs:
Even a small amount of alcohol inhibits the communication pathways in the brain, and can affect both the way it looks and how it works. These disturbances to the pathways makes it difficult to think clearly, impedes coordination and changes behavior and moods.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause damage to the heart, which will in turn lead to secondary problems including:
- Arrhythmia – The heart beats irregularly
- Cardiomyopathy – Drooping and stretching of the heart muscle
- Elevated blood pressure
Research does however show that drinking alcohol in moderation may actually prevent coronary heart diseases from developing in healthy adults.
Excessive alcohol consumption extracts a huge toll from the liver and could lead to numerous problems including:
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Steatosis, also known as fatty liver
The pancreas produces toxic substances in response to alcohol. This could eventually cause pancreatitis, where the blood vessels in the pancreas swell and dangerous inflammation could prevent proper digestion.
Excessive alcohol consumption could increase the risk of developing cancers, including:
- Esophagus cancer
- Mouth cancer
- Liver cancer
- Throat cancer
- Breast cancer
Excessive alcohol consumption could weaken the immune system. This will result in the body becoming an easy target for disease. Prolonged drinking is more likely to cause diseases such as tuberculosis as pneumonia.
Excessive drinking on a particular occasion will slow your body’s ability to fend off infection. This effect could last as long as 24 hours after the binge.
Emotional And Physical Effects Of Alcohol
One of the most prevalent types of addiction is alcoholism, with millions of people depending on alcohol.
When people become addicted to alcohol, they lose all self-control. Their craving for alcohol increases and they desire drinking in excess. When this happens, many things in a person’s life are affected and things will no longer be the same.
The alcoholism does not only affect the individual, but the effects are felt by many others, including family members, friends and co-workers.
People who suffer from alcoholism will carry on drinking and many won’t even recognize that they have a problem. While destroying both their life and that of others around them, they will only be able to think about getting that next drink.
Alcoholism is serious and usually requires some type of treatment. Although it is certainly possible for a person to stop drinking by themselves, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they do this. Some of the symptoms are potentially life-threatening and medical attention will be required immediately.
Most people addicted to alcohol will be better off using an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation center rather than trying to overcome their addiction alone.
The Effects Of Alcoholism On Health
Alcoholism’s lasting effects are very similar to those felt with other drug dependencies. When consuming alcohol moderately, an individual could run the risk of developing pancreatitis, liver disease, and oropharyngeal and esophageal cancers. Alcoholism could also lead to cardiovascular problems. The risks are amplified when someone stops drinking and starts experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms are often severe and in exceptional cases, could even lead to death.
Excessive alcohol consumption also increases the risk of developing cancer, arthritis, hypo- and hyperglycemia, kidney disease, heart disease, nervous disorders, obesity, malnutrition and psychological disorders. Alcoholism could cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome when a mother drinks heavily while pregnant. With this syndrome, the fetus suffers from both behavioral and physical abnormalities.
It is not well-known that alcoholics could eventually lose their sense of smell. This is yet another example of the fact that alcoholism knows no boundaries when it comes to creating damage to the body.
When an individual abuses alcohol over time, their brain literally shrinks. The frontal cortex is the part of the brain that controls higher functioning, including long-term planning and reasoning. Alcoholism heavily impacts on this area of the brain. The hippocampus, responsible for memory and learning, is also affected negatively by heavy drinking. This could also affect a person’s mood.
Numerous studies have shown that the long-term effects of alcoholism throughout an individual’s life could cause irreparable damage to internal organs, including liver failure or damage, shrunken arteries and high blood pressure.
Teenaged alcoholics run the very real risk of experiencing stunted bone growth when they get older. This is yet another example of the risks of alcoholism during the time when a young person goes through important developmental stages. In older individuals, alcoholism could lead to various bone-related issues, including osteoporosis.
Most young women of college going age who indulge in ongoing binge drinking would be shocked to find out that alcoholism could cause disruption to menstrual cycles, infertility and sometimes even early menopause. What is even more frightening is the danger of fetal alcohol syndrome and other birth defects in children born to women who abuse alcohol. Young women are however not the only ones at risk. Males that abuse alcohol could experience a decreased sperm count, resulting in many not able to father children at a later stage.
Numerous studies recently done by the American Medical Association link certain types of cancer with alcoholism. Regardless of the probability that excessive drinking could lead to cancer, this should be enough reason to book yourself into an alcohol rehabilitation program immediately.
Apart from the many health issues resulting from drinking alcohol excessively, any person with alcoholism will suffer social effects. This may start by them withdrawing from friends or even family. Many people addicted to alcohol develop new social circles that consists of others with the same problem. They will experience problems when trying to maintain any meaningful relationships.
When children are involved, the alcoholic may no longer want to be part of their lives. Apart from the negative effects on the family structure, alcohol addiction will also impact negatively on relationships within the workplace. Addicts aren’t able to get along with their colleagues and this can in turn lead to job loss.
Alcoholism threatens every single aspect of an addict’s life. They always suffer from physical effects, while many will suffer from psychological effects as well. These could include anxiety, unexplained mood swings, suicidal tendencies and thoughts, severe depression, angry outbursts, or even violent acts. All of these symptoms are a direct result of alcohol dependency and each represents a threat to the addict’s safety, as well as the safety of any person the addict comes into contact with.
Once these effects become apparent, people may identify them as signs of alcoholism and realize that there is a problem. At this stage, they might try to suggest to the addict that they need help. Any alcoholic will however only seek help when they are ready. Unfortunately, more often than not, they don’t notice these changes in themselves and will continue along the road of destruction until they finally hit rock bottom. At that stage, the addict will hopefully realize they need help and will have to make major changes to their life.
Most severe alcoholics need the help of a treatment center if they are to overcome their addiction. Once the addiction is cured, the center will also assist them in preparing for their new life once they leave. As this might involve numerous lifestyle changes, the center will offer thorough counseling and support to teach the person new skills that will be required to cope with a life without alcohol dependency.
Everyone addicted to alcohol should seek help from professionals, as this will not only increase the chances of a full recovery, but will also help reduce withdrawal symptoms. The patient will also be better prepared for a bright future of sobriety.