Battling Alcoholism: The Long Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body and Mind

While the short term effects of alcohol are easy to see when a person becomes intoxicated, it’s important to understand that there are a number of long term effects of alcohol abuse that can occur if the use is chronic. Even after a few drinks, a person may start slurring their words, be unable to walk in a straight line, and have memory lapses from the time in question. The chronic use of alcohol has been shown to cause damage to the brain, chronic liver problems, anemia, some forms of cancer, depression, and nerve damage. The extent of the damage done to the body often coincides with the amount of alcohol a person consumes, but unfortunately it’s hard to determine when enough is enough when it comes to drinking alcohol.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol on the Brain

Drinking alcohol has a clear impact on the brain’s ability to function. Slow reaction times and an ability to think clearly are evident when a person is under the influence of alcohol. There are a number of factors that contribute to how the brain is affected over the years from alcohol consumption. The age the person began drinking alcohol, the amount of alcohol consumed, and how often alcohol was used all play in to how damaged the brain may become over the years. The level of damage can be short memory lapses or confusion, or lead to the need to be taken care of 24 hours a day. Many alcoholics are low in thiamine, which can lead to Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome, a disease of the brain that causes short term swelling of the brain and long term psychosis.

Liver Disease and Alcoholism

The liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol that is consumed, and removing it from the body. Excessive consumption leads to the liver becoming over worked, and scar tissue can develop. Cirrhosis of the liver is one disease many alcoholics face. As the disease progresses, cirrhosis symptoms include a loss of appetite, yellowing of the skin, chronic exhaustion, confusion and fluid retention. Once the liver is damaged, it can be difficult to manage the symptoms that come from having a damaged liver.

Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol can also lower your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to infections. It can cause nerve damage, which leads to numbness, tingling and weakness in your extremities. Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time can also cause chronic pancreatitis which is not curable and highly painful. Trying to quit drinking alcohol often takes an organized approach. Many people are unable to stop drinking on their own, and benefit the most from finding a recovery program that offers plenty of guidance and support. When you are worried about your long term health, it’s time for help.

Sources

  1. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm
  2. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/12-health-risks-of-chronic-heavy-drinking?page=3
  3. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/cirrhosis-liver#2

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