Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism
You may spend time making excuses for your drinking. Yes, you get strong cravings to drink, but that is just your stress talking. Everyone needs a glass of wine or a glass of scotch to take the edge off, right? Yes, every once in a while when you drink, you just can’t stop, but that’s because you are having a good time. That’s just partying. Yes, you do need to drink more and more to get the same effect, but that happens to everyone, right? No.
Craving, loss of control, tolerance, and physical dependence are all markers of an alcohol use problem. More specifically, alcoholism.
If you are working overtime to hide the severity of your addiction instead of getting treatment, you are setting yourself up for some very serious long-term effects on your health. This isn’t about your drinking driving away your spouse or costing your job; this is about losing your life.
If you have a dependence on alcohol, the time to stop is now. If you don’t, you are running some serious risks. For help seeking treatment and breaking your dependence on alcohol, contact RehabCenters.com at 800-481-6320Who Answers? and speak with someone today. We can connect you with the treatment that you need.
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Drinking Level Definitions
The goal for most people should be moderate alcohol consumption, which is—according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans—up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
One form of alcohol abuse is binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.”
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), on the other hand, defines binge drinking as “drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.”
SAMHSA also defines heavy drinking as “drinking 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.”
Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with major, widespread brain lesions. In addition to the direct toxic effects of alcohol, other factors play a role in alcohol-induced brain damage, including:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Nutritional deficits
- Electrolyte disturbances
- Liver damage
Other problems associated with the brain and nervous system include:
- Stroke: The National Stroke Association reports more than 2 drinks per day increase stroke risk by 50 percent.
- Impaired prospective memory (remembering to do something at a future time or date): The more alcohol consumed and the longer the period of consumption, the higher the degree of impairment
- Alcohol-related dementia
- Essential tremors: a movement disorder where part of the body make involuntary tremors
Frequent drinking over a long period of time can cause coronary problems, including:
- Cardiomyopathy: Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
- Arrhythmia: Irregular heart beat
- High blood pressure
Most people are aware of the frequency with which heavy drinkers develop problems with their liver. Treatment options are limited and, in extreme cases, may only be solved with a liver transplant. Possible liver problems include:
- Steatosis: Fatty liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis: inflammation of the liver
- Fibrosis: thickening and scarring of connective tissue
- Cirrhosis: late stage of scarring of the liver caused by many forms of liver diseases and conditions
Excessive alcohol consumption has also been linked to increased risk of the following cancers:
Drinking too much weakens the immune system, making chronic drinkers more likely to catch diseases. They are more likely to contract diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia than non-drinkers.
If you are concerned about your drinking and worried about the long-term effects it is having on your health, you need to seek treatment. Contact RehabCenters.com at 800-481-6320Who Answers? and get connected to treatment possibilities that can change your life and save your health.