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Effects of Alcoholism

There are numerous health, emotional and social effects of alcoholism documented. One of the most well-known includes the damaging effects alcohol has on the user physically. As a person drinks alcohol it passes through their mouth and esophagus into their stomach. At that point a small amount of the alcohol is converted there in the stomach. However, the larger part of the remaining alcohol enters the user’s blood stream and continues to spread throughout their body. This is why if the person has little or no food in their stomach they experience the effects of the alcohol more intensely and quickly.  

While alcohol is processed in the stomach, it also makes its way through the user's body via their blood stream. The effects of alcoholism cause serious health issues including: infection of the pancreas, infection of the esophagus, liver cirrhosis, infection of the liver, sleeping disorders, sexual problems, infection of the stomach and premature dementia.

Alcoholism can cause the development of fatty liver, cirrhosis and hepatitis. This happens because when a person drinks alcohol it is metabolized in their liver. As they continue to drink more and more alcohol their liver becomes severely affected by their alcohol consumption and is unable to process a number of important chemicals to keep itself healthy. The effects of alcoholism cause the liver to fill with fat (known as fatty liver), fibrous scar tissue (known as cirrhosis) and become inflamed (known as hepatitis).  

Alcoholic hepatitis (also known as inflammation on the liver) causes symptoms such as jaundice, abdominal pain and fever. It is most likely to develop in those who drink heavily over a long period of time (years). However, not all long term alcoholics develop this condition and those who drink only moderately have been known to develop alcoholic hepatitis. This condition can be fatal if the alcoholic does not stop drinking. The good news is that if the person is able to stop drinking their condition is often times reversible.

It is estimated that ten to twenty percent of severe alcoholics develop cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is when the healthy liver tissue changes to become scarred and unhealthy. When this happens it prevents the user’s liver from functioning properly by blocking the flow of blood through the liver. This in turn slows down the liver’s ability to properly process hormones, nutrients, medications and toxins. Cirrhosis of the liver will also slow down this organs ability to produce proteins and other naturally occurring substances necessary to stay healthy.

The effects of alcoholism also include fatty liver disease or alcoholic liver disease (ALD). Current estimates show that more than 15 million people in the United States overuse or abuse alcohol. Of this 15 million, 90%-100% of them will develop fatty livers. Developing a fatty liver can happen to those who consume alcohol in moderate to large amounts and can even develop over just a short period of heavy drinking. As of today there is no specific treatment for fatty liver disease. Of course, stopping drinking will greatly improve your health and lessen the severity of developing additional effects of alcoholism.

Alcohol is known to be extremely damaging on the user’s brain. When a person over-consumes alcohol they my experience black outs, memory lapses, brain damage and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Blackouts take place when the alcoholic drinks too much too quickly and causes their blood alcohol level to rise drastically. They will not be able to recall details from a period of time or even whole events that took place during their blackout. Memory lapses are one of the more common effects of alcoholism because of the drug’s effects on the user’s brain. Alcoholics will often have intervals of time that are unaccounted for or they will have difficulty remembering specifics of events that took place while they were heavily intoxicated.

Brain damage due to alcoholism is caused by persistent changes in the brain either directly or indirectly by alcohol. When a person is an alcoholic their brain is directly affected by their actions of consuming alcohol on a regular basis. This can cause real and permanent brain damage. Another way that brain damage occurs due to alcoholism is from overall poor health (one example is thiamine deficiency) or severe liver disease.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a serious disease caused by the effects of alcoholism. This disease is comprised of two separate syndromes: Wernicke’s and Korsakoff’s syndromes. The first syndrome, Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a short-lived serious condition that includes mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes and difficulty with muscle coordination. The second syndrome, Korsakoff’s psychosis is a long-term condition characterized by continued learning and memory problems.

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  • Alcohol Facts
  • Approximately 1.5 million drivers were arrested in 2000 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That�s just over 1% of the estimated 120 million or more episodes of impaired driving that occur among U.S. adults each year.
  • Full-blown FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) occurs in an estimated one out of every 750 live births.
  • Adult drivers ages 35 and older who have been arrested for impaired driving are 11 to 12 times more likely than those who have never been arrested to die eventually in crashes involving alcohol.
  • Young people are inexperienced drinkers as well as drivers. Less alcohol is needed to affect their driving ability. More 18, 19 and 20 year olds died in low BAC (between .01 and .09) alcohol-related crashes than any other age group.
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