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Alcoholism and Health: Are You Aware of the Risks?

It’s just one beer, you might think, but this simple justification can turn into multiple drinks across a one hour time span every day. Being aware of alcohol and its risks is a smart way to control drinking problems, however. If you’re an alcoholic or potential heavy drinker, read over the details about alcohol’s effects on the mind and body. With all of the facts in front of you, it’s possible to make a healthy decision and fight the need to drink every day.

Alcohol Impairs Mental Function

When you drink, the liquid seems to alter reality for just a few moments. This alternate reality is your perception of the world through alcohol goggles. You’re actually affecting how your brain cells signal each other, producing a numbing effect across the entire nervous system. Alcohol impairs mental function on several levels.

As people age, their brains shrink slightly with each passing decade. This normal decline is usually less than two percent every 10 years, but alcoholics suffer more shrinkage because of damage to the cells. The brain doesn’t shrink uniformly, but changes across certain regions to affect mood, thoughts and memory. As more alcohol is consumed, the brain continues to shrink at a rapid rate. People may suffer from dementia and other mental issues brought on by excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol doesn’t produce damaging results immediately, but systematically breaks down the mind over many years.

It’s often difficult to determine if drinking encourages depression or vice versa, but either way, alcoholism empowers depressive moods. Alcohol itself is a depressant, causing slower movements and poor coordination. When taken throughout the day, alcohol puts the substance abuser in a depressive state. Her troubles may seem worse than yesterday, although she hasn’t changed, for instance. It’s difficult to pull out of depression unless alcohol consumption is stopped completely. Sufferers often turn to professionals for help to keep the depression from encouraging harmful behaviors, such as deliberating hurting themselves.

You might think you sleep well when you drink, but that’s a myth that must be vanquished. When you drink alcohol, your body fights to remove the toxins from the digestive system. The liver and associated organs concentrate their efforts on metabolizing the alcohol instead of healing the body as a whole. You’re mentally affected by this bodily function because sleep isn’t deep or healing at all. Upon waking, you still feel tired and mental moods suddenly turn sour. You could feel grumpy all day until another round of drinks is consumed, for example. This mental issue creates a cyclical effect, empowering you to drink more and alleviate those moody feelings. What you truly need is restful sleep without any alcohol in your body.

Your mind is also affected by alcohol, as it encourages repressed feelings. Everyone has past regrets and worries, but they’re often pushed aside by alcoholics. Drinks numb the pain and make it easier to forget those thoughts. However, excessive drinking can make these repressed feelings come to the surface. You instantly feel down and extremely depressed as you recall a sad event, such as a loved one passing away. These feelings are greatly exaggerated and should be dealt with when sober. You can make the feelings worse during drinking, with possible harmful consequences.

Alcohol and the Body: Alcoholic Cirrhosis Is Not the Only Concern

Drugs always have a main body organ they affect the most, and alcohol is no exception. It’s been widely reported that alcoholic cirrhosis development in the liver is possible in drinkers. However, alcoholic cirrhosis isn’t the only ailment alcoholics must consider. Alcohol affects the entire body in various ways, including the development of serious diseases leading to dire circumstances.

A weakened heart and potential blood clots are issues you should be aware of, especially if heavy drinking is a common habit. Heart tissue simply weakens from the burden of dealing with constant toxins in the system. Irregular heart rate and heart attacks could result, creating cardiovascular problems that last for years. During heavy drinking, blood cells called platelets can actually bind together instead of acting normally on a cut or scrape to reduce bleeding. These clots travel around the body until they become lodged in blood vessels. It’s possible to have a stroke with these types of drugs consistently stressing the body.

A chemical reaction occurs when you consume alcohol. It converts into a substance called acetaldehyde, allowing the body to digest it efficiently and remove it from the system. However, acetaldehyde might be a carcinogen. If you constantly bombard your body with alcohol and these resulting chemicals, cancer could be in the future. Cancer might develop in the throat, mouth or other digestive system areas. It could even develop elsewhere in the body because of the continued stress through alcoholism. The only way to reduce cancer risk is to quit drinking entirely.

Seizures are often associated with epilepsy and other disorders, but they can occur in heavy drinkers. Between a shrinking brain and deteriorating cardiovascular system, your muscles don’t have strong nerve communication or nutrients flowing to their fibers. Although they don’t occur in all alcoholics, seizures could develop because of poor body health. Muscles can’t communicate or move as efficiently as before, so they overreact at times with a seizure. Doctors must determine if the seizures will stop with a sober lifestyle or if the damage is severe enough to remain a constant in your life.

Doctors usually tell patients to avoid alcohol during sickness because the immune system is weakened. In fact, alcohol contributes to immune system suppression. When you constantly drink, you place the immune system in a perpetual down state. You’ll notice common colds and flus running through your body more frequently than before the drinking habit. It’s possible to catch viruses or bacterial infections when you’d otherwise be immune to them. The immune system is critical to long-term survival, but alcohol will circumvent its efforts. Quitting the drinking cycle allows the body to shore up the immune system to return to normal again.

Facts and Statistics Concerning Alcoholism

Of all addictive substances, alcohol has some of the most long-term statistics available on mental, physical and community effects. When you abuse alcohol, it affects you, loved ones and the community at large. Facing some of the facts and statistics regarding alcoholism might be another reason to seek professional help right away.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 6 percent of deaths across the entire world are alcohol-related. If the world’s population is 7 billion, for example, that means 420 million people will die from alcohol alone. That number is incredibly high, and certainly provides a stark fact for alcohol abuse awareness. Those deaths could be from alcohol-related disease, such as alcoholic cirrhosis or cardiovascular problems, or actions taken during drunkenness. The only way to lower that overall number is to educate people on alcohol effects and provide helpful recovery resources. No one wants to become a statistic.

If you look at the United States exclusively, it reports that alcohol abuse issues cost taxpayers around $220 billion each year. This figure includes medical care, recovery and other government-funded programs. If more people concentrated on being sober, that huge cost figure would certainly drop. The money might be appropriated to other programs to help the public at large. It’s not just your drinking problem, but alcohol abuse becomes an issue for everyone paying taxes to support the programs affiliated with care and recovery. Being part of the solution by attending a recovery center and giving back to the public are smart ways to amend any costs to the entire nation.

Although the legal drinking age is 21 years, this fact doesn’t deter underage use if individuals really want alcohol. In 2013, a reported 8.7 million youngsters between 12 and 20 years of age said they tried alcohol within the previous month. Starting alcohol use earlier than 21 years of age is an early indication of possible abuse. Children and teens are still developing, and alcohol only negatively alters normal development. Future alcoholics could be in middle and high school at this moment. When you see all of the factors that contribute to underage and adult alcoholism, you can apply those concepts to your life to start out on a recovery pathway.

In 2013, about 30 percent of all driving fatalities across the United States were related to alcohol. Those fatalities could be the alcoholics themselves or victims of drunk driving. You don’t want to potentially contribute to this statistic, so seeking recovery and a sober lifestyle could be in your future. Sometimes it just takes some real, hard facts to make you think about sobriety as a possible choice. Taking the step to call a professional today is a giant leap for your entire life.

Overcome Alcoholism for a Healthier Body and Mind

There’s no better way to motivate yourself and stay sober than to fixate on the health benefits of no alcohol consumption. You improve your mind and body almost immediately upon becoming sober. Although recovery is a constant companion you must always deal with head on, a healthier body gives you the courage to try something other than drinking. From jogging to riding a bike, almost all activities are possible without alcohol in your system.

Your body must deal with a certain amount of stress when digesting alcohol, so you probably have very little energy to exercise or even venture outside. With sobriety by your side, you’ll have much more energy than previously. You’ll also have the motivation to go out and achieve those physical goals. The more exercise you take on, the more your body will crave the hormonal rush. All of these hormonal highs are completely natural and help you concentrate on healthy distractions. You simply won’t want to drink because it takes away from new and more exciting hobbies.

In one alcohol shot alone, there could be nearly 100 calories consumed in a second. Your drinking days have probably coincided with heavy weight gain. Without those extra calories, your body will naturally lose the weight. Because you’ll be more active, the weight comes off even faster. Couple your sober habits and exercise with a healthy diet, and you have instant fat loss. With a leaner physique, you’ll feel better and live longer with sobriety as a constant companion. Even bring your family and friends into the weight loss challenge, asking them to give up their favorite drinks, such as soda. Everyone striving for the same goals only boosts your strength to stay dry and sober.

Your skin is a direct reflection of your health, so a sober lifestyle only gives it more glow. Alcohol is dehydrating, making your skin flaky and dry. When you only drink water and other nonalcoholic beverages, the skin can retain some moisture to appear supple and firm. Look in the mirror each day to really see the skin changes over days and weeks. Even take a daily photo to compare time periods. Although it’s gradual, skin will rejuvenate and display a healthy glow to mimic your new lifestyle.

One of the most important health-related benefits of a dry lifestyle is lower disease chances. When you drink, your immune system efficacy drops dramatically. You open your body up to disease and chronic illness. Because your body doesn’t have to digest toxins anymore, it can shore up defenses against disease. Think back to your last common cold and see how long it takes to catch another virus. You might find a long time period between sicknesses, indicating a healthy immune system.

There are many types of drugs throughout each town or city, but alcohol tends to be the most prevalent because of its widespread availability. Contact the helpline at 844-806-6511. Professionals can help guide you to a better tomorrow with effective treatments designed for each individual. Your health, family and friends are worth the fight for sobriety and a better life.


Our articles are written by individuals who have seen addiction up close. They may have watched addiction take a toll on someone they loved or had their own battles with substances, and they write for us to spare others some of that pain and confusion. If you find these writings useful and would like to speak to someone who gets addiction, call us at (844) 826-1700.

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