Effects of Alcoholism
The effects of alcoholism can be detrimental to one’s overall well-being, and left untreated may foment the need for chronic alcoholism treatment. Generally, the effects of alcohol vary from person to person and are contingent upon the person’s biological makeup, pre-existing conditions, and longevity of alcohol use and abuse. Alcoholism can cause irreversible damage to one’s health , especially to the brain and liver.
The short term effects of alcoholism depends on how much alcohol is consumed, as well as your physical condition during your tenure of alcohol use. Short term effects of alcoholism includes:
- Slurred and/or agitated speech
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Upset stomach
- Distortion in vision and hearing
- Impaired judgement
- Decreased perception, coordination, and awareness
- Anemia (loss of red blood cells)
- Blackout (memory lapses in which you cannot recall events that occurred while under the influence)
The long term effects associated with binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts can cause a series of health problems. The long term effects associated with alcoholism includes, but are not limited to:
- Cancer of the mouth and/or throat
- High blood pressure
- Liver damage
- Nerve damage
- Cardiovascular disease
- Delirium tremens
- Sexual problems
- Irreversible brain damage
- Deficiency in Vitamin B1
- Gastritis (inflammation within the walls of the stomach)
- Increased problems in interpersonal relationships
- Alcohol poisoning
- Unintentional and intentional injuries such as domestic violence, car crash or drowning
Alcohol acts as a depressant within our central nervous system, affecting multiple systems within the brain. When alcohol is consumed it rapidly absorbs into your bloodstream which will carry the alcohol throughout your body. A drink generally stays in your system for about two hours, however this time frame can vary based on factors such as weight and gender. Once you begin drinking your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) peaks, and then goes back down. When drinking in moderation, alcohol’s depressant qualities lead to feelings of relaxation and happiness. However, once alcohol, further consumption increases the depressant affects and can cause drowsiness and confusion. Over consumption of alcohol is especially harmful to the liver, the organ responsible for breaking down alcohol and other harmful substances. People who abuse alcohol over a long span of time often develop diseases such as liver inflammation (alcoholic hepatitis) or severe scarring on the liver (cirrhosis), alcohol related liver disease can ultimately end fatally.
Large amounts of alcohol take longer for the liver to metabolize, allowing it to travel throughout the rest of the body including the brain. Alcohol is capable of affecting areas of the brain which are responsible for controlling movement, speech, judgement, and memory. These effects induce classic symptoms of drunkenness such as walking difficulties, slurred speech, lapse in memory, and impulsive behaviors. Over time, long-term drinking can cause the frontal lobes of the brain to shrink, ultimately leading to impaired thought processes. Symptoms exhibited by chronic alcoholics include delirium tremens which causes permanent memory loss.
Alcohol’s impact on the heart has been greatly debated. Some research has shown that moderate drinking- up to two drinks daily for men and one drink for women- can lower one’s chance of developing heart disease. Other evidence shows that heavy drinking can damage the heart. Long-term alcohol use can lead to high blood pressure, which increases one’s chances for developing heart disease. Thankfully, blood pressure levels may return back to normal within a few months of ending heavy drinking if severe damage has not already been done to the heart.
The effects of alcohol varies between males and females- which is why there are gender specific treatments, including female alcoholism treatment and male alcoholism treatment. In general, women are more sensitive to alcohol than men are, causing alcohol to affect them more. Women’s bodies have the tendency to break down alcohol at a slower rate. In addition, women also have less water in their bodies than men, therefore alcohol becomes more concentrated in their blood. As a result, women tend to become impaired quicker than men, even if both genders consumed the same amount, which explains why the recommended drinking limit for men and women differs. In addition, research has also shown that drinking long-term is more likely to cause damage to a woman’s health than a man’s health. Research also suggests that as little as one drink per day can raise a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
Alcoholism is twice as common in men than in women. Men are at a higher risk for abusing or becoming dependent on alcohol than women are. In general, older men are more likely to drink alcohol compared to older women. However, women are at higher risk for developing a drinking problem later in life. Men are at less risk for developing health issues such as cancer than women are. Men are also less likely to die from cirrhosis than women. In conclusion, alcohol negatively affects women more than it does men.