According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 14 million Americans had an alcohol use disorder in 2019. Alcohol abuse refers to excessive alcohol despite the harm it may cause to your health, relationships, and more. If you are undergoing alcohol addiction treatment or planning on doing so, it is important to understand the long-term effects of alcohol on all aspects of your life.
At Olympic Behavioral Health, we have individualized treatment programs that can help you deal with the stresses an alcohol use disorder places on your health and mental well-being. Contact us today by calling [Direct].
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body
The NIAAA states that alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the country. Every year, an average of 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes. Over time, alcohol abuse damages the body and can result in conditions like:
- Liver cirrhosis
- Stomach ulcers
- Heart damage
- Hormonal imbalances
- Cancer of the mouth, liver, colon, esophagus, and breast
- Compromised immune system
- Digestive problems
Alcohol places stress on the heart, which can lead to arrhythmias, high blood pressure, and heart muscle diseases.
Alcohol significantly affects the liver and can lead to three stages of liver disease. The first is fatty liver, followed by alcoholic hepatitis, which causes liver inflammation, scarring, and cell death. The most severe progression of liver disease is alcoholic cirrhosis, which leads to a loss of liver function.
Women are particularly vulnerable to health-related risks of alcohol abuse because they metabolize it at different rates. Alcohol also affects younger people dramatically since it interferes with adolescent brain development, putting them at risk of suffering bodily injury.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Brain
An alcohol use disorder will impact your brain. Even short periods of alcohol abuse can impact your memory and coordination. Long-term use, however, can cause permanent damage to your brain, affecting it even when you do not have alcohol in your system.
Long-term alcohol use can lead to a thiamine deficiency. Low thiamine levels can lead to Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which presents as severe mental confusion, paralysis of nerves that control eye movements, and muscular incoordination.
Wernicke’s encephalopathy can lead to Korsakoff’s psychosis, which causes severe cognitive issues like an inability to form new memories.
Alcohol abuse can also cause:
- Nerve damage
- Decreased attention span
People with an alcohol use disorder experience disruptions in the brain pathways related to decision-making and judgment, making it even more difficult to control their drinking.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on a Fetus
As pregnancy progresses, alcohol abuse can lead to numerous disorders for the fetus, including:
- Small head size and low body weight
- Abnormal facial features
- Short stature
- Sleep problems
- Bone, kidney, and heart problems
- Vision or hearing problems
- Learning disabilities
- Memory problems
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders can even be a risk for women who drink before knowing they are pregnant.
Find the Support Necessary to Heal from Alcohol Abuse at Olympic Behavioral Health
Alcohol use disorders can disrupt every aspect of your life. Your health can suffer, as can your cognitive functions, leading to complications that may not be reversible.
At Olympic Behavioral Health, we are experts at helping people with substance use disorders. We offer tailored, comprehensive treatment options because we understand each patient’s journey to recovery is different. Together, we can address the underlying causes of your disorder to find the path to healing.
If you have an alcohol use disorder, getting the help you need is a phone call away. Call us at [Direct] today to start your healing journey to sobriety.