Having a beer or a glass of wine with friends is a socially accepted norm that millions of people enjoy every day. However, there’s no denying that alcohol consumption can have an impact on your physical, emotional and social health. Whether you enjoy an occasional cocktail or you’re struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s important to understand the short- and long-term physical and psychological effects that alcohol can have on your body. Although many of them can be halted or reversed if you stop drinking, it can be challenging to quit without addiction treatment and support.
Alcohol Stats at a Glance
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, people who misuse alcohol have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, depression, stroke and stomach bleeding. In addition, those who drink heavily also have an increased risk of oral cancer and cancers of the throat, liver, colon, and rectum.
In 2019, nearly 26% of people ages 18 and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Nine million men and 5.5 million women reported that they suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
Short-Term Effects of Drinking
Even one or two drinks can have an impact on how you feel. Although it varies depending on age, weight, gender and overall health, generally, the liver can metabolize one standard alcoholic drink per hour. Consuming more than that can lead to intoxication and other effects such as skin flushing, lowered inhibitions, loss of coordination and judgment and trouble concentrating. More severe effects include vomiting, passing out, high blood pressure and reduced body temperature.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Use
Over time, excessive drinking can cause serious, chronic issues that affect your physical and mental health. In addition to an increased risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease, those who abuse alcohol may experience:
- Memory loss
- Lowered attention span
- Difficulty learning new things
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
Binge drinking is a serious problem in the United States, especially on college campuses. Drinking too much may cause alcohol poisoning, which can lead to permanent brain damage or death.
How the Body is Affected by Alcohol Abuse
Prolonged heavy drinking is associated with numerous health problems and can have a significant impact on the organs and systems of the body. Chronic alcohol abuse can cause serious damage to organs and systems such as the:
Liver ─ A common result of alcohol abuse is liver disease. Over time, the liver may become inflamed or scarred. Continued alcohol use can lead to conditions such as alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver, fibrosis and cirrhosis. Those who abuse alcohol are also more prone to developing liver cancer.
Stomach and digestive system ─ Alcohol can erode the stomach lining and increase the production of acid, which can contribute to ulcers. It can also impede the breakdown, absorption and excretion of nutrients, which may lead to malnourishment and keep the body from utilizing nutrients effectively. People who drink alcohol frequently may not eat regularly and may also vomit as a result of drinking too much. Thiamine deficiency is common in those who abuse alcohol and can result in serious neurological issues.
Pancreas ─ Alcohol is partially metabolized by the pancreas. When the pancreas overproduces enzymes that are designed to break down alcohol, those enzymes may start eating away at the pancreas, leading to pancreatitis. The pancreas also produces insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar. Diabetics who abuse alcohol often suffer serious, even deadly health issues.
Alcohol abuse can also affect the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and even your reproductive and bone health. It can exacerbate the symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Other Ways Alcohol Abuse May Affect Your Life
Alcohol use disorder can wreak havoc on families and destroy relationships. One of the best ways to find recovery from addiction to any substance is to seek professional help. An outpatient addiction care program enables you to continue spending time with your family, working and attending to daily tasks while getting the help you need.
Contact Hickory Treatment Centers Today
Hickory Treatment Centers provides safe drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Indiana. We offer personalized, compassionate care that is designed to meet your unique recovery needs. Contact us today to learn more.