There is no doubt that alcoholism can have devastating effects on a person's emotional life but it can also cause serious physical health problems and harm to the body. Alcohol is a drug that affects the body dramatically over a period of time.
The longer someone engages in alcohol abuse, the more damage they cause to their health and well-being. Regularly flooding the body with a toxin such as alcohol can cause problems with major organs and lead to debilitating conditions.
People suffering from alcoholism become physically and psychologically dependent on the drug, making it hard for them to quit even after developing serious health problems. However, it is possible to reverse some of the damage caused by alcohol with abstinence and proper medical treatment.
Alcohol in the Short Term
It does not take long for a person to feel the effects of alcohol, especially if they have had several drinks. The initial effects may be pleasant such as relaxation and reduced inhibitions, part of the reason why alcohol can become so addictive.
As a person continues drinking, however, they will start to experience lowered concentration, lowered reflex and response time as well as poor coordination resulting from slowing activity in the brain.
As a person becomes drunk they begin to experience common symptoms such as slurred speech, drowsiness, emotional changes, staggering and clumsy or exaggerated behavior. Alcohol in higher doses can lead to such negative effects as nausea and vomiting, loss of bladder and bowel control, blackouts, temporary loss of consciousness, or in cases of alcohol poisoning coma and death.
As the effects of alcohol begin to wear off the next day people experience the unpleasant symptoms of a hangover including nausea, vomiting, and headache as they are no longer experiencing the alcohol high.
Dangers of Long-Term Alcohol Consumption
While short term alcohol use can be dangerous or even fatal in certain cases, it is after years of chronic abuse that most people begin to see the negative effects of the drug. Alcohol mainly affects the brain, the liver and the heart but it can cause damage to numerous important organs in the body leading to health problems.
Drinking is well known to cause serious damage to the liver. Because alcohol is a toxin, the liver must constantly work to filter it out of the body which can be taxing and harmful to this major organ. Heavy drinkers often develop cirrhosis of the liver which means that the organ is scarred and barely able to function.
Drinking excessively also causes brain cell and shrinkage of the brain that can lead to memory loss and symptoms of dementia. People with dementia have trouble with motor skills, making judgments, problem solving and planning.
Alcohol affects the heart by making platelets more likely to clump together in blood clots which can ultimately lead to a heart attack or stroke. Alcoholism can also weaken the heart muscle leading to a condition called cardiomyopathy which in some cases can end in heart failure.
Drinking very moderately (such as only one or two drinks a day) will not cause health problems and is actually considered beneficial by many doctors. The problem that many people experience though is the highly addictive nature of alcohol, especially if they have certain vulnerabilities to developing an addiction.
Heavy drinking on a regular basis can cause serious harm to the body. Alcoholics must face a myriad of health problems in addition to fighting the disease of their addiction. Alcohol abuse is not only harmful to a person's life and relationships, for many people it can ultimately be a fatal illness.