Alcohol abuse is an easy trap to fall into — it’s readily available and socially acceptable. Intoxication is portrayed humorously in popular entertainment. It’s almost as if the world is telling you: Get drunk. It’s fun. And funny.
But the long-term effects of excessive alcohol use are anything but fun. Continued use can lead to dependence, and can damage one or more organs or systems in the body: the liver, stomach, circulatory system, or nervous system. It can increase blood pressure, leading to stroke or kidney failure.
As your body fails, so does your life. Alcohol can affect your personality, making you moody, depressed, and anxious. Your work and family life can go to pieces. All the little things you once handled easily now add up to big problems.
That’s fun? Humorous? We don’t think so. The staff at Tranquil Shores has seen what alcohol abuse can do to human lives, and we’re here to help you understand how alcohol can affect you in the long run.
Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Alcohol affects many of the vital organs and systems in the body. The changes may be subtle and go unnoticed for a long time, but when those systems start to breakdown and fail, the consequences are serious. These important organs can be seriously damaged by alcohol:
– Heart. The heart is a muscle that can be weakened by prolonged alcohol use. The results can include stroke and high blood pressure. Severe heart damage caused by alcohol may not be reversible.
– Pancreas. Alcohol can cause the pancreas to attack itself with digestive enzymes. This malfunctioning can be very destructive.
– Kidneys. Kidney function is vital to survival and can be irreparably damaged by alcohol abuse. Alcohol triggers kidneys to over-produce urine and upset the fluid balance in the body. The result can be dehydration and an over-concentration of electrolytes. Alcohol abuse also affects the filtration function of the kidneys by changing the rate of blood flow.
– Liver. Fat deposits in the liver increase due to heavy drinking. A fatty liver is more susceptible to inflammation and disease Cirrhosis and hepatitis aren’t uncommon among alcoholics. The effects of alcohol on the liver can lead to life-threatening diseases.
– Large amounts of alcohol remain undigested in the stomach instead of passing through the small intestine into the bloodstream. Undigested alcohol in the digestive system is acidic and can cause irritation. Chronic irritation may lead to ulcers and gastritis.
Alcohol is actually a toxin, or poison, which the body endures in small quantities. Large quantities of alcohol consumed quickly or over a long period of time can damage vital organs and result in death.
Emotional Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol can affect your mood or even your mental health. Some people drink to relieve the strong emotions of trauma or the symptoms of an existing mental illness. Many alcoholics aren’t even aware this is the reason they began drinking. After a while, drinking became a comfortable habit that they continued.
Those who don’t start out with a mental illness, however, can end up with one from excessive alcohol use. When a mental illness exists with alcohol addiction, the two conditions are difficult to separate. They usually feed off each other and must be treated at the same time.
The mental effects of alcohol range from memory loss to impaired motor skills. Alcohol use can encourage risk-taking behaviors that are physically and emotionally dangerous. Prolonged heavy drinking might even shrink the size of your brain.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Brain
The brain is the root of all alcohol damage. When you’re stumbling around and slurring your words, these are physical signs of changes taking place in your brain. After you sober up and feel more like yourself again, your brain is slow to recover. Instead, it often adjusts its functioning to accommodate the influx of new chemicals from the alcohol. Over time and heavy alcohol consumption, your brain functioning is largely altered.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol in Society
Alcohol consumption in the U.S. is near an all-time high, as are the incidents of alcoholism. Here are some stats you might find alarming:
– 5 million Americans over the age of 12 are heavy alcohol users.
– 9% of Americans admit driving under the influence at least once.
– 1 million binge-drink at least monthly.
– 7 million Americans ages 12 to 20 report alcohol use.
Many people end up facing the long-term effects of alcohol use and addiction, but there are treatment options.
Tranquil Shores has led many alcoholics through successful rehabilitation and helped them learn to smile again.
If you’re having trouble with alcohol or suspect someone close to you is, let’s talk seriously about how Tranquil Shores can help you reclaim your life.