According to the CDC, the chronic effects of alcohol are vast and substantial. Every year excessive alcohol consumption leads to 95,000 deaths. Those who die prematurely from alcoholism shorten their lifespans by an average of 29 years. What’s more, one out of every ten deaths among adults between 20 and 64 years of age was related to the effects of long-term alcoholism. So what are alcoholism’s long-term effects, and what are the signs that it’s time for help?
What are the Signs of Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is marked by heavy consumption or excessive drinking. This is when you regularly consume more than 4-5 drinks at a single time, or between 8-15 drinks per week. Severe alcoholism can manifest in the form of addiction, where your body shows withdrawal symptoms if you are not drinking. You start to shake and have cravings. Alcohol becomes an essential thing in your life, and your need to drink takes precedence over your family, friends, work responsibilities, financial responsibilities, and more.
Other signs include blacking out regularly, being unable to recall the events of your evening, or being unable to stop drinking even if you want to. If you are periodically drunk and notice physical withdrawal symptoms, it might be time to get help.
How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?
Alcohol affects the body in many ways. When you drink, alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream. It gets broken down by your liver, but this takes time. The alcohol builds up in your bloodstream and negatively impacts your brain and organs. If you drink too much at one time, your liver and pancreas cannot eliminate the toxins from your body fast enough, so the alcohol isn’t removed from your body.
This is what results in feeling drunk. Being drunk is dangerous because it slows down your breathing, impacts your blood pressure, slows your heart rate, etc. Long term, these issues can compound.
What are the Effects of Long-Term Alcoholism?
The effects of long term alcoholism impact many areas of the body:
Long-term effects of heavy drinking disrupt the pathways in your brain. This changes the way your brain works. It can damage the nerves in your brain, leading to insomnia, anxiety, depression, decreased balance, and problems with cognition. When this happens, you experience mood and behavioral changes, and your coordination is impacted. The longer you use alcohol excessively, the more challenging things like thinking clearly or recalling events become.
For anyone dealing with memory loss or impaired cognitive thinking due to alcohol, brain optimization programs may be able to help after getting sober.
The long-term effects of alcoholism extend to the heart as well. Long-term drinking can physically damage your heart leading to your heart muscle stretching and drooping, causing cardiomyopathy. It can also impact your circulation and heart rate, leading to high blood pressure and arrhythmias. All of this can compound in the form of a stroke.
When most people think of chronic alcoholism, they associate it with liver disease. Chronic effects of alcohol take a particular toll on the liver. Regular alcohol consumption causes inflammation in the liver, as your liver is unable to process the high rates of sugar. This can lead to a fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and fibrosis of the liver.
Similarly, the pancreas plays an essential role in regulating excess sugar in the body and storing fat. With excessive alcoholism, the pancreas is exposed to toxic substances that accumulate inside, leading to severe inflammation. When the blood vessels in your pancreas are swollen, they cannot digest your food correctly, inhibiting the nutrient absorption you get.
All of this works in tandem to weaken your immune system. Without the right nutrients, your body does not get what it needs to keep your organs functioning. You miss out on vital nutrients that weaken you. Alcoholics are more likely to struggle with poor immune health, which means they are more likely to get infections, react strongly to regular colds and flues, and contract serious diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Finally, there is a great deal of research linking cancer to alcoholism. The more you drink, the higher your risk of developing alcohol-associated cancers like liver cancer, esophageal cancer, or breast cancer.
How to Find Comprehensive Alcohol Addiction Treatment
At Total RMH, we believe that the effects of long-term alcoholism are most severe in the brain, which is why our unique and comprehensive approach to Beverly Hills addiction treatment focuses on improving the health of your brain and body. We help you improve the health and function of your immune system and your brain with nutritional therapy and IV Therapy. We reset the processes in your brain that have been interrupted because of the long-term effects of heavy drinking. Let us develop an individualized plan for you today.
Reach out to us today for help with your addiction.