the possible effects of alcohol include death

Legal & Lethal: Alcohol’s Many Effects

Alcohol’s Many Effects

Out of all the mind-altering substances, alcohol is one of the most harmful and damaging to the human body.  Society encourages the idea that alcohol is a “lesser demon” because it’s legal.  But this isn’t true.  Nobody should take alcoholism lightly. Alcohol abuse is a serious problem with serious effects.

Chronic alcohol abusers experience dozens of dangerous symptoms, many of which the general public aren’t aware of.  This article will explore some of those symptoms as well as what to do if you’re experiencing any of them.  

Physical Dependence 

In the beginning of an alcoholic’s drinking career, severe health consequences probably haven’t arisen yet.  But one of first consequences to happen will be physical dependence.  Like heroin and other opiates, alcohol is physically addictive.  The body becomes dependent on it and becomes violently ill without it.  However, unlike heroin, the withdrawal from alcohol is deadly.  This means that without supervised medical care, one can experience seizures, hallucinations, and death.  

Physical Deterioration

But the problems don’t only come from withdrawals.  There’s other physical complications that occur with heavy alcohol consumption. Many of these effects manifest over time as the person continues to abuse alcohol. Fortunately, when someone stops drinking, a lot of the physical problems will improve.

Digestive System

Drinking alcohol on a regular basis damages the lining of the stomach.  That’s the reason nausea and heartburn go hand in hand with alcohol abuse.  Over time, it leads to bloating, extreme gas, and even painful ulcers.  

Malnutrition

Damage to the digestive system also prevents the body from absorbing all the vitamins and nutrients it needs from food intake.  This is the main cause of malnutrition in an alcoholic’s body.  At the same time, fatigue can strike.  Not only because of the malnutrition, but because anemia is yet another complication of alcohol abuse.

Muscle Weakness

The same deterioration happens to muscles throughout the entire body.  Many alcoholics will begin to experience weakness, severe cramping, and eventually, muscle death.  If they aren’t feeling pain, they may notice a tingling sensation in their hands & feet.  This can happen when there’s damage to the central nervous system.

Osteoporosis

The human bone structure also suffers from alcohol abuse.  Chronic alcohol abusers raise their chances of developing osteoporosis.  This is the thinning and weakening of bones.  The chances of falling and breaking a bone raise drastically.  It also means that the mending of that broken bone will take much longer than it would for a healthy person.

The Immune System

Alcoholics and others who drink on a regular basis make it harder for their bodies to fight off bacteria and viruses.  Their immune systems are not what they should be because of the alcohol.  This makes them extremely susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia and Tuberculosis.  

Physical Damage

Alcohol abuse has a huge effect on all our major organs.  Whether it’s the heart, the lungs, the pancreas, or the liver, alcohol doesn’t discriminate.  Chronic alcohol abuse has been known to cause heart damage, liver damage, complications with diabetes and the pancreas, lung infections, and even Cancer.  Many of these problems are become chronic illnesses that need their own treatment after someone stops drinking.

The Heart & Liver

One thing people might not know is that chronic alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease.   The heart, along with the liver, experiences extreme damage from alcohol.  Alcohol prevents the liver from being able to expel harmful toxins from the body.  Over time these toxins can build up and make a person feel sick.  Eventually alcohol degrades the liver so much that people suffer from liver disease and liver failure. 

The Pancreas

Heavy drinking can also affect the pancreas.  The pancreas is the organ that regulates blood sugar.  Alcoholism is the most important risk factor for developing pancreatitis.  It happens so often in alcoholics that, in time, the repeated pancreatitis causes permanent damage.  It also stops the body from being able to balance blood sugar properly.  This can cause diabetic complications in the body, or even lead to diagnosable diabetes in people who never have had it before.

Cancer

Finally, chronic alcohol abusers are much more likely to develop cancer than non-drinkers.  The most common are throat, mouth, and esophagus cancers.  And in women, breast cancer is more common in alcoholics.

Alcohol Affects Sex?  Yes, It Does!

After all the problems listed above, alcohol abuse adds insult to injury by damaging reproductive organs and processes. Alcohol has severe effects on sex organs in both males and females.  In males, alcohol causes sexual dysfunction.  Men who struggle with alcohol abuse has a much higher chance of developing Erectile Dysfunction.  And for women, chronic alcohol abuse leads to infertility.  

Furthermore, alcohol use is a serious concern if a woman is pregnant. It doesn’t take very much alcohol to cause severe birth defects in the womb.  This means that after birth, the development of the child may be stunted.  In some cases, the child may suffer from FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome).  

Change Your Life

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be your life or the life of someone you love. Alcohol abuse is a serious issue with many consequences, but help is available. With hard work and support, many alcoholics have stopped drinking. They were able to turn their lives and their health completely around. So please, if you or someone you love is a chronic alcohol abuser, or suffering from the effects of alcohol, reach out for help!

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