We are all familiar with a drunk person trying, and failing miserably, to walk into a straight line. Drunken antics, a lack of inhibition, slurred speech, poor motor control, and glassy eyes are all common side effects of alcohol use and typically end with a hangover the next morning. Beyond the immediate effects, when alcohol is being misused or when a person has alcoholism, its use has the potential to affect the body in more severe ways.
Alcohol use can be damaging to internal organs, the brain, as well as the central nervous system. Because of the unseen side effects of alcohol use, rehabilitation for alcoholism often involves more than just getting sober. It can take years of medical intervention to recover fully from alcohol use disorder and that is why it is so important to understand the serious effects that the condition can have on the body.
The Effects of Alcohol on The Body
Over time, alcohol misuse can lead to a variety of chronic conditions and medical complications. These conditions range in severity and treatability, all potentially affecting the quality of life for those afflicted.
Alcohol & Liver Damage
Chronic alcoholism severely damages the liver. The liver is the organ in the body that filters and breaks down toxins in the blood. When exposed to excessive alcohol use, the liver can become damaged, scarred, and begin to fail. This failure means that the blood will not be filtered as well and that the toxins that would have been previously removed, remain in the body. Without dramatic and constant medical intervention, liver damage will inevitably lead to death. Often people with alcohol-induced liver damage do not realize that their liver is irreparably damaged until it is too late for medical intervention.
Alcohol & the Central Nervous System
Consisting of the brain, the spinal column, and nerves, the central nervous system is vital to the normal functioning of the human body. Chronic alcohol misuse can lead to damage to certain parts of the central nervous system. This can lead to issues in memory, speech, mobility, and thought processes.
Alcohol & the Brain
Excessive alcohol use can be extremely damaging to the brain. Memory loss, alcohol-related dementia, and other mental health problems are not uncommon developments for people who struggle with alcoholism.
Alcohol & Cancer
There is research showing that the risk of developing cancer is increased with the consumption of alcohol. Breast, mouth, throat, esophageal, liver, colon, and rectal cancers have all been linked to excessive alcohol use.
Aside from these more major medical issues, chronic alcohol use can also decrease fertility in men and women, induce erectile dysfunction in men, cause weight gain, create stomach ulcers, and even lead to premature aging.
Short-Term Side Effects Of Alcoholism
Many of the major bodily symptoms of alcohol use are a result of long-term alcoholism and may not develop for a number of years. That being said, there are short-term effects of alcohol use that can appear not long into a person’s struggle with alcohol use disorder. With short-term alcohol use a person might experience:
- Slurred speech
- Impaired judgment
- Lack of coordination
- Altered emotional state
- Drowsiness or sleepiness
- Inability to control urination or defecation
- Flushed skin
While many of these side effects are not deadly by themselves, they can become dangerous when paired together, or when experienced over and over again. It is these short-term side effects that often build into the long-term side effects and eventually into the most damaging effects of alcohol use.
Long-Term Side Effects Of Alcoholism
It can take months to years to experience some of the long-term effects of alcoholism and alcohol use. That being said, the long-term effects of alcoholism can be much harder to manage and become even more dangerous the longer the alcohol use goes on. Some of the most common long-term effects of alcoholism are:
- Liver and brain damage
- Deterioration of skin quality
- Sexual impotence and infertility
- Stomach ulcers
- Various cancers
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack or stroke
The long-term effects of alcoholism are difficult to treat and many people inevitably succumb to them. That being said, the earlier a person can get help, the better the chances of them achieving recovery.
When deciding to quit drinking alcohol, many people with alcohol use disorder go through symptoms of withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is the process of a substance leaving your system and can result in a number of symptoms that range in severity. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms are headaches, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and even seizures. It is often a good idea for people to seek help from a loved one or even from a treatment facility if they would like to quit alcohol but know they will go through withdrawals. This will allow them to safely go through the withdrawal process and start them on the right path to recovery.
Alcohol poisoning is the consequence of drinking an excessive amount of alcohol. On a basic level, alcohol poisoning occurs when there is more alcohol in your blood than your organs can process and filter out. What this means is that the alcohol left in your blood begins to affect the brain and other organs in a negative way. Alcohol poisoning can come on quickly and have lethal consequences.
Because alcohol is a depressant, too much alcohol in the blood can lead to slowed breathing, slurred speech, vomiting, uncontrollable urination and bowel movements, extreme dehydration, blackouts, slow heartbeat, blue and cold skin, and even coma. Alcohol poisoning is considered a medical emergency and a person suspected of having alcohol poisoning should always be seen by a doctor immediately.
Getting Help For Your Alcoholism Today
Alcoholism can affect every part of your day, put your life at risk, and seem impossible to recover from. Here at Shadow Mountain Recovery, we are here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. Recovery is possible and our qualified team at Shadow Mountain is ready to help you begin your path to recovery today. It may not be easy, but we can assure you that it will be worth it. To learn how to start your journey towards recovery call us at (800) 203-8249 for more information.
FAQs About Alcohol Side Effects
What are the health effects of alcoholism?
Some of the health effects of alcoholism are heart disease, organ damage, skin problems, an increased risk of cancer, and many more health issues.
What are the symptoms of alcoholism?
Some of the symptoms of alcoholism are constant cravings for alcohol, hiding drinking habits, drunken behaviors such as incoordination, slurred speech, and agitation, defensiveness, among many others. Some people show signs of alcoholism very outwardly, while others are able to conceal their alcoholism quite well.