Alcohol abuse is a serious health risk. Drinking more than the recommended daily amount increases the chance that you will develop a myriad of health conditions.
Various cancers, cardiovascular disease, and brain damage are just a few of the health concerns that disproportionately affect people who drink alcoholic beverages.
Most Common Health Effects Of Alcohol Addiction
Drinking alcohol can have unpleasant short-term effects, but that’s just the beginning.
Excessive alcohol drinking affects every major organ in your body. The list of negative health effects due to long-term alcohol addiction is practically endless.
Memory Loss From Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse increases the likelihood that you will develop early-onset dementia also known as alcoholic dementia. If that wasn’t enough, alcohol abuse also puts you at risk for developing alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD).
ARBD is an umbrella term that refers to a number of different conditions all resulting from physical damage to your brain.
While some people only have a mild loss of cognitive function, ARBD can also mimic the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The good news is that ARBD is treatable. Most people with the condition will regain some or all of their mental faculties when they stop drinking and receive treatment.
Liver Damage From Alcohol Abuse
Your liver works overtime whenever you consume alcohol. If you engage in heavy drinking, you’re far more likely to have complications with your liver.
Common complications include fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. In each case, the liver is inflamed, severely injured, or covered in scarring. The risk of liver failure due to alcohol abuse is high.
Alcoholic Gastritis From Alcohol Addiction
Heavy alcohol use is tough on your stomach. Over time, it can irritate the lining of your stomach, causing inflammation and ulcers. This condition is known as alcoholic gastritis.
Alcoholic gastritis isn’t always noticeable. People who have symptoms may experience nausea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
In severe cases, gastritis can cause bleeding. You may pass black stool. You may also vomit blood or a substance that looks a lot like coffee grounds.
The condition is treatable but will recur if the underlying alcohol addiction continues untreated.
Cardiomyopathy From Alcohol Addiction
Cardiomyopathy is a serious health condition affecting the heart. Consuming too much alcohol or binge drinking directly damages the muscles of your heart and can lead to alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy.
Over time, this damage physically weakens those muscles. At some point, they will no longer have the strength to pump blood efficiently.
Without proper blood flow, there is the potential for damage to tissues and organs throughout the body. There is also an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Both can be fatal.
Alcohol also affects your pancreas. When you consume alcohol, it prompts your pancreas to produce enzymes that are normally not active within the organ.
These enzymes are normally used in digestion, and the pancreas is not designed to handle them. Their presence causes the swelling, bleeding, and permanent damage associated with alcohol-induced pancreatitis.
Lifestyle changes can help to treat this condition. Giving up alcohol is usually the first step.
Effects Of Alcohol On Blood Pressure
Consuming too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure to unsafe levels. While high blood pressure is treatable, there is often lasting damage.
High blood pressure actually damages your arteries. Over time, your arteries will stiffen, making it more difficult for them to deliver oxygenated blood efficiently.
The decreased flow of oxygenated blood can damage various tissues and organs. It also increases your risk of developing serious heart disease, which could end in heart failure.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders From Alcohol Abuse During Pregnancy
There is no safe level of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy. From the earliest days of development, your embryo is vulnerable to the substances you consume. Even moderate drinking is dangerous.
Consuming alcohol during pregnancy is associated with a high risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects the physical and cognitive development of your baby.
Children with fetal alcohol syndrome are likely to experience:
- poor growth
- poor muscle tone
- lack of coordination
- delayed development
- poor vision
- shortened attention span
Overall, children with FAS are likely to struggle physically, socially, and academically. It is a lifelong disability.
Other Health Conditions Caused By Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol abuse also contributes to other health problems. These can affect your physical health as well as your mental health.
Increased Risk Of Cancer
People who consume too much alcohol are at an increased risk of developing a variety of cancers.
Some of the most common include cancers affecting the:
- oral cavity
Immune System Damage
Excessive alcohol use also damages your immune system. It reduces the efficacy of physical barriers and normal immunological responses. These changes make you more vulnerable to disease, including coronavirus.
Binge drinking in particular increases the risk of serious hangovers and alcohol poisoning. The latter can be life-threatening.
Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are both associated with mental health disorders, especially depression and anxiety.
Treatment Options For Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol consumption is considered a cultural norm in the United States. As a result, alcohol abuse is the most common substance use disorder in this country.
If your regular alcohol intake exceeds the amount deemed safe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you may have an alcohol use disorder.
Making lifestyle changes may be enough. However, if you’re finding it difficult to stop drinking on your own, then you should seek treatment for alcohol dependence and addiction.
Some options include comprehensive plans, like inpatient alcohol rehab programs, as well as outpatient services, such as alcohol support groups.
Find Alcohol Abuse Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
Bedrock Recovery Center offers alcohol addiction treatment that will support you from start to finish. We offer medications to support you through alcohol withdrawal and prevent relapse.
At the same time, we offer behavioral therapy to help you recognize destructive patterns and harmful thoughts.
The long-term effects of alcohol addiction have the ability to ruin your health and your life. Ask for help today.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Alcohol and Substance Misuse
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — High Blood Pressure
- National Institutes of Health — Alcohol and the Immune System
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Alcohol’s Effects on the Body
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Alcohol
- National Library of Medicine — Acute Pancreatitis
- National Library of Medicine — Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy
- National Library of Medicine — Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- National Library of Medicine — Gastritis