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6 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health

Studies have repeatedly found that long-term alcoholism effects in spurts throughout a person’s life can cause great harm to one’s internal organs. This includes liver damage, liver failure, high blood pressure and shrunken arteries. Those problems could includedepression, an inability to manage stress, an unresolved trauma from your childhood, or any number of mental health issues. Such problems may become more prominent when you’re no longer using alcohol to cover them up.

consequences of alcohol abuse

Credible, evidence-based educational campaigns in the mass media about the consequences of alcohol misuse have been recommended. Guidelines for parents to prevent alcohol misuse amongst adolescents, and for helping young people with mental health problems have also been suggested. Most people don’t realize that their drinking has become a problem until they’ve developed some form of alcohol use disorder. Knowing Alcohol detoxification the signs of an alcohol use disorder may help an individual get the treatment they need and avoid the long-term effects of alcohol abuse. In order to better understand alcohol abuse, it may help to know what’s considered moderate drinking. Moderate drinking is defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as having up to two standard drinks per day for men and up to one standard drink per day for women.

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Lack of peer and family support is associated with an increased risk of alcoholism developing. Genetics and adolescence are associated with an increased sensitivity to the neurotoxic effects of chronic alcohol misuse. Cortical degeneration due to the neurotoxic effects increases impulsive behaviour, which may contribute to the development, persistence and severity of alcohol use disorders. There is evidence that with abstinence, there is a reversal of at least some of the alcohol induced central nervous system damage. The use of cannabis was associated with later problems with alcohol use. Alcohol use was associated with an increased probability of later use of tobacco and illegal drugs such as cannabis.

consequences of alcohol abuse

Alcoholism directly resulted in 139,000 deaths in 2013, up from 112,000 deaths in 1990. A total of 3.3 million deaths (5.9% of all deaths) are believed to be due to alcohol. Alcoholism reduces a person’s life expectancy by approximately ten years.

Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours.

The more you drink, the higher you raise your BAC and the more impaired you will become. When people drink alcohol, they may temporarily feel elated and happy, but they should not be fooled. As blood alcohol level rises, the effects on the body—and the potential risks—multiply. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more standard drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in about two hours.

Additionally, heavy drinking over time has been found to have a negative effect on reproductive functioning in women. This results in reproductive dysfunction such as anovulation, decreased ovarian mass, problems or irregularity of the menstrual cycle, and early menopause. Alcoholic ketoacidosis can occur in individuals who chronically misuse alcohol and have a recent history of binge drinking.

Other Effects

Some research studies indicate that having bariatric surgery may increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder or of relapsing after recovering from alcohol use disorder. Alcohol withdrawal can occur when alcohol use has been heavy and prolonged and is then stopped or greatly reduced. Signs and symptoms include sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, problems sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and occasionally seizures. Symptoms can be severe enough to impair your ability to function at work or in social situations. If your pattern of drinking results in repeated significant distress and problems functioning in your daily life, you likely have alcohol use disorder. However, even a mild disorder can escalate and lead to serious problems, so early treatment is important. When you drink, your blood vessels dilate, and lymph fluid is increased throughout the body.

  • Many terms, some slurs and others informal, have been used to refer to people affected by alcoholism; the expressions include tippler, drunkard, dipsomaniac and souse.
  • Disulfiram may be an option for people who want to try a drug to help prevent them from drinking.
  • Alcoholism can be managed through pharmacological, supportive, and therapeutic methods in a complete treatment program that addresses both the physical and mental side effects of alcohol use and addiction.
  • Experiences following alcohol withdrawal, such as depressed mood and anxiety, can take weeks or months to abate while other symptoms persist longer due to persisting neuroadaptations.
  • Even if the addicted person refuses treatment, family members can get help and support from an organization like Al Anon.
  • Lack of peer and family support is associated with an increased risk of alcoholism developing.

Alcohol had actually replaced peyote as Native Americans’ psychoactive agent of choice in rituals when peyote was outlawed. Disability-adjusted life year for alcohol use disorders per million inhabitants in 2012. Several tools may be used to detect a loss of control of alcohol use. Another common theme is a score or tally that sums up the general severity of alcohol use. The two manuals use similar but not identical nomenclature to classify alcohol problems. The fourth stage can be detrimental, as Johnson cites it as a risk for premature death.

The new article will say that, 10 years later, four of the 20 had died from alcohol-related causes. Eight others were still drinking excessively, six were abstinent but in most cases after multiple hospitalizations, and one was drinking moderately. Another subject, who could not be found, was reported gravely disabled. Caucasians have a much lower abstinence rate (11.8%) and much higher tolerance to symptoms (3.4±2.45 drinks) of alcohol than the Chinese (33.4% and 2.2±1.78 drinks respectively). Also, the more acculturation there is between cultures, the more influenced the culture is to adopt Caucasians’ drinking practices. Peyote, a psychoactive agent, has even shown promise in treating alcoholism.

Surgeon Generals Report On Alcohol, Drugs, And Health

As with similar substances with a sedative-hypnotic mechanism, such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, withdrawal from alcohol dependence can be fatal if it is not properly managed. Alcohol’s primary effect is the increase in stimulation of the GABAA receptor, promoting central nervous system depression. With repeated heavy consumption of alcohol, these receptors consequences of alcohol abuse are desensitized and reduced in number, resulting in tolerance and physical dependence. When alcohol consumption is stopped too abruptly, the person’s nervous system suffers from uncontrolled synapse firing. This can result in symptoms that include anxiety, life-threatening seizures, delirium tremens, hallucinations, shakes and possible heart failure.

consequences of alcohol abuse

Benzodiazepines, while useful in the management of acute alcohol withdrawal, if used long-term can cause a worse outcome in alcoholism. Alcoholics on chronic benzodiazepines have a lower rate of achieving abstinence from alcohol than those not taking benzodiazepines. This class of drugs is commonly prescribed to alcoholics for insomnia or anxiety management. Those who are long-term users of benzodiazepines should not be withdrawn rapidly, as severe anxiety and panic may develop, which are known risk factors for alcohol use disorder relapse. Taper regimes of 6–12 months have been found to be the most successful, with reduced intensity of withdrawal. Severe childhood trauma is also associated with a general increase in the risk of drug dependency.

Over Time, Substance Abuse Slowly Chips Away At:

Once you take a drink, your body makes metabolizing it a priority — above processing anything else. Unlike proteins, carbohydrates and fats, your body doesn’t have a way to store alcohol, so it has to move to the front of the metabolizing line. This is why it affects your liver, as it’s your liver’s job to detoxify and remove alcohol from your blood. We offer 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. While some people can have an occasional drink without consequence, millions of others struggle to control their alcohol intake. Many people are aware that drinking can have significant impacts on a person’s physical health. However, they may not realize that this drug is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the nation.

The Recovery Village specializes in treating alcohol addiction and helping people recover from alcoholism. Contact one of our caring representatives to learn how The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab can help you or a loved one start on the path to a healthier future. Excessive, long-term drinking is linked to chronic inflammation throughout the body. Alcohol increases the presence of chemicals Sober companion called cytokines that cause inflammation. Drinking also increases the body’s cortisol levels, a stress hormone that is linked to inflammation. Because the inflammation can take place throughout the entire body, experts think that every organ in the body can be impacted by alcohol-related inflammation. The same HPA axis involved in endocrine system function is also tightly linked to the immune system.

consequences of alcohol abuse

Heavy drinkers are also 2.77 times more likely to have nerve damage than other people. Long-term, heavy drinking can damage the liver and cause liver disease. The more alcohol the liver has to process, the more bloated its cells become.


Underage drinking is drinking alcohol before a person turns age 21, which is the minimum legal drinking age in the United States. Underage drinking is a serious problem, as you may have seen from Transitional living your friends’ or your own experiences. Alcohol is the most commonly used substance of use among young people in America, and drinking when you’re underage puts your health and safety at risk.

Patterns of excessive drinking can be especially harmful to your health. TheCenters for Disease Control and Prevention reports that binge drinking is the most common.

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