Alcohol, even when you drink it in small amounts, can affect your physical and mental health. Short-term consequences of drinking may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. If you’ve gotten drunk before, you know what I’m talking about. But the consequences of alcohol abuse and addiction go way beyond these symptoms.
I abused alcohol all through my teenage years. I was addicted to it, and it took a toll on my health. Alcoholism is a disease, and it has to be treated medically like any other disease would be. When I finally accepted to go to rehab, my health was compromised in different ways. I was lucky. I had a team of wonderful professionals who helped me start healing my body and my mind.
I have been sober for 9 years now, and I have been able to undo most of the damage I caused with my addiction. Today, I’d like to share with you 5 health complications caused by alcohol addiction, so that you know how serious and dangerous alcoholism can be.
Research on whether moderate amounts of alcohol can protect against coronary heart disease or not is confusing. In any case, there are more risks than benefits when it comes to drinking alcohol.
Alcoholism affects your cardiovascular system in many ways. Heavy drinking can cause platelets to clump together into blood clots, which can produce a heart attack or a stroke. It can also cause high blood pressure because it triggers the release of certain hormones that constrict blood vessels.
In addition, heavy drinking can cause cardiomyopathy. This is a condition in which the heart muscle weakens and eventually fails. It may also lead to atrial and ventricular fibrillation, which can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, irritates your digestive system. When you drink alcohol, it passes through all the segments of the gastrointestinal tract. And it can interfere with their structure and function in many ways. For example, alcohol makes your stomach produce more acids, which can lead to acute gastritis. It can also cause heartburn by separating the esophagus from the stomach. It may also contribute to diarrhea by impairing the muscles of the small intestine.
A more serious consequence is the development of esophageal cancer. This can come as an effect of alcohol-induced damage to the mucosal lining of the esophagus. Alcohol also prevents your intestines from absorbing nutrients and increases the transport of toxins. These toxins can cause damage to other organs such as the liver.
Did you know that alcohol is linked to seven types of cancer? Drinking alcohol causes the formation of chemicals that can produce cancer. It damages the cells and tissues in your body and affects hormone levels.
It’s important to remember that all types of alcohol increase the risk of cancer. And there is no “safe amount”, given that even small amounts can increase this risk. The types of cancer associated with alcohol are:
-Pharyngeal cancer (upper throat)
-Esophageal cancer (food pipe)
-Laryngeal cancer (voice box)
Drinking and smoking can multiply the risk of developing throat and mouth cancer. Tobacco and alcohol work together to destroy the cells in these organs. Alcohol makes it easier for the mouth and throat to absorb the chemicals that cause cancer in tobacco.
The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body. It carries out more than 500 important functions for our well-being. Alcohol is mostly processed in the liver, which is why this organ is one of the most affected by it. Drinking alcohol for a long period increases your chances of developing liver disease. Also, heavy drinking increases the risk of the alcoholic fatty liver.
Other health complications in the liver include alcoholic hepatitis. It is a long-term inflammation that can cause scar tissue. This scarring can completely invade the liver over a long period, causing it to be hard and modular. This condition is known as cirrhosis.
Alcohol affects the way your brain works by interfering with its communication systems. It contracts brain tissues, destroys brain cells and depresses the central nervous system. This can cause short-term and long-term effects. The short-term effects are the ones you experience when you get drunk. Change of mood and behavior, slurred speech, and blurred vision are some examples. Long-term effects are more serious than that.
One of the most disturbing long-term effects is memory loss. When you drink too much in one night, you might have memory lapses or even blackouts. Having this happen once should be enough for you to worry about your drinking habits. But when this happens frequently, the damage in your brain can cause long-term memory loss. Alcohol also contributes to developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. In addition, excess alcohol is also linked to dementia and cognitive impairment.
These are only 5 ways in which alcohol can affect your health. Unfortunately, there are many, many more. Alcoholism can lead to permanent damage to your body. If you think you have a drinking problem, it is vital that you contact a professional to help you begin your recovery process.
Alcohol detox and recovery were the hardest things I have ever done. But they were worth it. If I hadn’t gotten treatment when I did, it wouldn’t have been long before I ended up in the hospital with liver failure. But today I have a healthy liver and a healthy body. I’m able to enjoy life as I always should’ve. Sobriety is the best decision I have ever made. I hope you make this decision too.
Do you have any questions about the health risks of alcohol? If you’d like to share your story or ask something, please leave a comment below.
Bio: Hi, my name is Andy! I was born in Bogota, Colombia, but raised in Los Angeles, California. I spend my time helping others with their recovery and growing my online business.