How Does Frequent Alcohol Abuse Affect Your Health?
It’s easy for most people to see how alcohol abuse affects their relationships and work life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, chronic alcohol abuse causes relationship problems, poor performance at work or school and has a significant financial impact.
But the biggest way in which alcohol has a destructive effect on your life is on your health. Here are some of the most common ways that alcohol can affect your health. If you have questions about your alcohol use or about how to get help, call our helpline today at 800-839-1686.
Short-Term Health Risks
Chronic alcohol abuse affects your health in the short term in many ways. Some of these risks include the following:
- Increased risk of injury. Alcohol changes your depth perception, causes you to be overconfident and to take risks that you might not while sober. All of these factors increase your risk of alcohol-related injury.
- Risky sexual behaviors, such as having unprotected sex. Alcohol clouds your judgment and causes you to engage in sexual behaviors you might not while sober.
- Increases the risk of stillbirth or miscarriage in pregnant women. Drinking while pregnant is dangerous, not just to you but also to your baby. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy also increase the risk of causing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a lifelong condition that causes developmental harm to children.
- Increased risk of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is a poison, but it’s a dose-dependent one. Your body can usually safely metabolize the amount of toxins present in a drink or two. But when you drink more than your body can safely handle, it can cause alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal and is a medical emergency.
Long-Term Health Risks
Alcohol abuse has long-term effects on your health as well. Chronic alcohol abuse often takes place over a period of many years, which causes the damaging effects to be cumulative. Many of the long-term health risks from chronic alcohol abuse can even be fatal. These include the following health conditions:
- Alcoholic gastritis. Gastritis is an inflammation of the stomach lining, which can occur as a result of many causes. Symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, bloody vomit, loss of appetite and weight loss. Alcohol is a toxin that irritates the stomach lining. Alcoholic gastritis occurs as a result of drinking so frequently that the stomach lining does not have time to heal. According to the CDC, alcohol gastritis can even be fatal.
- Increased risk of various types of cancer. Regular alcohol use increases the chances of developing cancer of the breast, colon, esophagus, liver, mouth and throat.
- Increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
- Greater likelihood of experiencing problems with learning and memory, including an increased risk of developing dementia.
- Poorer mental health. There is a well-documented link between substance abuse and mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Many people with pre-existing mental health problems use alcohol in an effort to self-medicate their symptoms. But chronic substance abuse can actually cause mental health problems as well. Alcohol and drug use actually changes the way the brain functions.
How to Minimize the Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse
The most reliable way to minimize your risks associated with alcohol abuse is to quit drinking. Alcohol is a toxic substance that our bodies don’t need in order to survive. But if you have been drinking for a long period of time, you may need help to safely detox.
You are more likely to need medical assistance to stop drinking if you have been drinking large quantities of alcohol for a long period of time. Fortunately, many of the damages done by excess alcohol consumption are reversible.
Getting sober is a worthwhile journey. If you need help, call our knowledgeable, caring experts today at 800-839-1686.