Drinking too much alcohol now and then probably won’t damage your health if you are in good physical condition. However, the effects of chronic alcohol abuse can be detrimental to your health, physically and mentally. Heavy drinking can damage every organ in your body over a period of time. Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.
Effects of Chronic Alcohol Abuse
When a person drinks alcohol, it first enters the stomach and small intestine. From here, it is absorbed in the bloodstream. Once alcohol enters the bloodstream it is circulated throughout the entire body. A person may develop cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, tongue, stomach, pancreas, breast, and liver due to chronic alcohol abuse. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can damage any person’s health, no matter what their age.
Some of the effects of chronic alcohol abuse include but are not limited to:
- High blood pressure
- Loss of attention span
- Memory loss
- Trouble learning
- Diminished white matter and gray matter in the brain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fatty liver
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Long-term heavy drinking can also cause depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. In fact, chronic alcohol abuse can also cause dementia.
Binge Drinking and Alcohol Poisoning
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as, “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher.”
Binge drinking means that a person consumes a large number of drinks in a short period of time, such as two hours. NIAAA defines “heavy drinking” as consuming four drinks in one day for men and drinking more than three drinks in one day for women.
Binge drinking can also lead to alcohol poisoning. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can result in this serious (and sometimes, deadly) condition. Signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Slowed breathing
- Pale or bluish skin
- Passing out or unconscious
- Irregular breathing such as stopping and starting back taking breaths
If you cannot awaken a person who is unconscious or passed out, call 911 immediately. This person is at risk of dying. Don’t think that the person will just “sleep it off” as many individuals do and just leave them alone.
Knowing the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
By knowing the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, you can avoid the effects of chronic alcohol abuse. If you think you are in the early stages of alcohol abuse or that your drinking could lead to abuse or addiction, know the signs to look for. By recognizing these signs, you can seek treatment and prevent more serious problems in the long term.
- Having a strong urge to drink
- Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from it
- Oftentimes, drinking more than originally intended
- Trying to cut down on the amount of drinking unsuccessfully
- Using alcohol in unsafe situations such as driving or swimming
- Failing to fulfill obligations and responsibilities because of drinking
- Needing more alcohol to feel the effects (tolerance)
- Showing withdrawal symptoms if not drinking alcohol
- Continuing drinking when it causes family and relationship problems
If any of these signs and symptoms sound like you and your drinking behavior, seek help to avoid long-term physical health problems and the chance of mental problems also. Don’t let alcohol be the reason for declining physical health.
Contact Awakenings Rehabilitation
If you are seeing a pattern in your consumption of alcohol that is leading to more dangerous issues, you don’t have to continue on this path. Seek help from a reputable alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility. Don’t put your future health and happiness at risk. Seek help.
Contact us at Awakenings Rehabilitation today. We can design a treatment program for your individual needs and preferences. One of our representatives can answer any questions you may have about our facility and our many different treatment programs. Contact us now!
niaaa.nih.gov – Drinking Levels Defined
mayoclinic.org – Alcohol Poisoning
mayoclinic.org – Alcohol Use Disorder