Written By: Lily Brooks from Addiction Treatment Center at the Beaches
What Are the Effects of Alcohol?
Since the dawn of time, humans have consumed alcohol. Various civilizations around the world have made alcoholic beverages from various ingredients for consumption in daily life or on special occasions.
Before diving deep into the effects of alcohol, let’s first define what an alcoholic drink is. A standard drink has around 14 grams of pure alcohol, which can be found in:
- 12 ounces of regular beer, about 5% alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, typically at about 12% alcohol
- 5 ounces of distilled spirits, around 40% alcohol
The effects of alcohol are dependent on many factors like the amount consumed in a given time period, the type of alcohol, and even the health condition of the individual. But the general signs of alcohol intoxication include slurred speech, memory loss, uncoordinated body movement, among other things.
How Alcohol Affects the Body
Alcohol can affect your body both inside and out. It can be categorized into two categories: short term and long term effects.
Short term effects of alcohol include:
- Lowered inhibition
- Trouble in concentration
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of critical judgment
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Reduce body temperature
- Elevated blood pressure
Long term effects of alcohol include:
- Decreased gray matter in the brain
- Memory loss
- Difficulty learning
- Liver fibrosis
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
While every organ in your body can feel the effects of drinking, some are more affected and at risk for damage. The best way to prevent systemic damage due to alcohol consumption is to lowering alcohol intake.
Alcohol has a significant effect on the brain‘s complex structure and function. It inhibits the chemical signals between neurons leading to the common symptoms of alcohol intoxication such as impulsive behavior, poor memory, slurred speech, and decreased reflexes.
The long term effect of alcohol on the brain is even more severe. Because of the severely suppressed signaling due to alcohol, the brain compensates by releasing more neurotransmitters which can alter a person’s behavior permanently. It can also lead to a dramatic decrease in brain function due to this blockage.
It should come as no surprise that alcohol exerts significant harm to the heart. Too much exposure to alcohol can have detrimental effects. Such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, weakened heart muscle, and irregular heartbeat.
Alcohol abuse can also put a person to an increased risk of a heart attack because of the decreased supply of oxygen to the heart cells as well as a significant weakening of the heart muscles.
Stroke is also a long-term effect of excessive alcohol consumption. Stroke leads to damage to other systems of the body including the musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, and digestive system.
Because it is the liver that metabolizes alcohol, it is on receives the most damage due to overconsumption of the substance. Alcohol abuse can lead to several different liver diseases such as liver inflammation, alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic fatty liver, and eventually liver cirrhosis.
When the liver metabolizes alcohol, one of its by-products includes acetaldehyde, a toxic substance that is also carcinogenic. Pretty soon, accumulations of toxic substances in the liver can no longer process fat properly which leads to its accumulation in the organ that further hampers the functioning of the liver.
The pancreas, being quite close to the liver, is also immediately affected by too much alcohol consumption. The main function of the pancreas is to secrete enzymes and hormones crucial to the normal function of the digestive system.
An excessive amount of alcohol can lead to pancreatitis or inflammation of the tissues in the pancreas. This leads to a reduction in the enzymes and hormones that the pancreas normally produces.
Insulin, a substance crucial to the absorption of sugar into the cells of the body, is also produced in the pancreas. Too much exposure to acetaldehyde can cause the reduction of insulin levels in the blood leading to the onset of diabetes.
Alcohol abuse is a major health concern in many countries around the world. Not only does it cause severe health problems in many people, but it can also affect their quality of life. The world’s health authorities are faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of eradicating alcohol abuse. Treatment centers have risen to the occasion to help those affected by this serious disease.
Lily Brooks is an avid blogger. She writes about a variety of topics including health, science, and literature. She is currently working with TheBeachesTreatmentCenter, a fully accredited & licensed Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center at the Beaches
Extra Tip from Aileen Grace Ponce from Abbeycare Foundation.
Alcohol detox is the process of controlling withdrawal symptoms and progression to reduce mental and psychological risks. Abbeycare Foundation’s alcohol detox centers provide every amenity and comfort to ease the withdrawal process so you or your loved one can remain as comfortable as possible while they begin the process of a fully personalized alcohol addiction treatment program.