The physical effects of long-term alcohol abuse can be extremely harmful and detrimental to everyday life. Both social drinkers and those who suffer from alcoholism can feel both the long-term and short-term effects alcohol abuse can have on the body.
These effects can lead to extreme physical impairments or even death if not treated. Nevertheless, having the proper understanding of these short and long-term effects can help to make the decision to give up drinking and begin to live a healthier lifestyle.
What is Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol abuse is a pattern or cycle of drinking that leads to inability or difficulty controlling drinking habits. This can mean that even when drinking has begun to cause problems in one’s life, someone continues to drink. It could even mean there is a preoccupation with drinking alcohol.
Alcohol abuse can also lead to needing more and more alcohol in order to achieve the desired effects of drinking. This can be a dangerous cycle to begin because it can be very difficult to break the habit. This is especially true if someone tries to do it on their own, without professional help.
Drinking excessively can lead to what is known as alcohol poisoning. When someone overconsumes alcohol faster than the body can process it, there are some effects that the person can begin to feel. These effects can be dangerous. The body is unable to process the alcohol. Consequently, this leads to the effects of alcohol overwhelming the body, leading to severe impairment or worse, more severe effects.
Some general signs of alcohol poisoning are:
- Slowed breathing
- Blue tinted skin
- Low body temperature
If any of these symptoms are noticed, it is imperative to contact 911. If left untreated, alcohol poisoning can lead to permanent brain damage, or worse, death.
The short-term physical effects of long-term alcohol abuse can generally be noticed by bystanders. Typically, the liver can only process and metabolize one alcoholic drink per hour. Other factors like age, weight and even gender can impact how the liver metabolizes alcohol.
The effects of alcohol, in the short term, can vary from less severe symptoms such as lowered inhibitions, to more severe symptoms like unconsciousness and vomiting. No matter the severity, these effects can lead to major complications unless someone gets detox that provides hands-on medical treatment and other forms of support.
Other short-term physical effects of alcohol abuse can include:
- Flushed skin
- Issues concentrating
- Losing coordination
- Mood swings
- Passing out
- Higher blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Impaired judgment
The more permanent physical effects of long-term alcohol abuse are more severe. Moreover, they can cause long-term chronic physical and mental health conditions, and lead to severe damage to the organs in the body. Alcohol abuse can cause liver damage, cardiovascular problems, and even certain cancers.
Some general permanent physical effects of long-term alcohol abuse can include:
- Memory loss
- Grey and white brain matter deterioration
- Diminished attention span
- Irregular heartbeat
- Esophageal, liver, throat, mouth cancer
- Liver fibrosis
Liver disease is the most commonly discussed physical effect of long-term alcohol abuse. With long-term alcohol abuse, the liver can become fatty, scarred, or inflamed. In turn, this can affect digestion and can make it difficult to metabolize and remove toxins from the body. If the liver is damaged, it can be irreversible and can lead to more severe consequences.
There are three stages to liver disease. They are:
- Fatty Liver: this is caused by a buildup of fat in the liver. This can be moderate, and asymptomatic, and it can occur even with moderate drinking.
- Alcoholic Hepatitis: this is chronic liver inflammation. This can include symptoms such as jaundice, anemia, and/or blood clotting issues.
- Cirrhosis: this is when the liver scarring and the liver may shrink, affecting its functionality. This stage of liver disease is irreversible.
There are other physical effects of long-term alcohol abuse that are dangerous to a person’s health and mental capacity. Alcohol can cause an increase in stomach acids, causing a risk to the digestive system. Alcohol can also affect cardiovascular health, leading to cardiovascular diseases that can lead to death.
Pancreatitis can also be caused by alcohol consumption due to the pancreas producing harmful toxins that lead to inflammation. With long-term alcohol abuse, there can also be severe cognitive damage.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, or “wet brain,” is a condition caused by vitamin B-1 deficiency in the brain. A wet brain can lead to confusion, coordination difficulties, learning disabilities, and memory problems. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to hindrances in new brain cell growth.
Get Treatment for Alcohol Abuse in South Florida
Alcoholism is treatable, and life can begin to improve. If you or a loved one have been abusing alcohol, there is help out there. There is hope for a better, healthier future. Here at Ambrosia, we aim to provide the best treatment possible for those who seek our help.
Contact us today and let our team of professionals help you as you begin your journey to a happier, healthier life free from alcohol abuse.