In large quantities, alcohol can have negative and serious consequences on the human body’s systems and organs. Below is an overview of the damage it can do.
The Brain and the Thought Process
Alcohol impedes neural pathways, and it makes neurotransmitters act in irregular ways (1). Because the brain cannot send direct messages to the rest of the body, many activities are hindered. Speech is slurred, for example, and hand-eye coordination suffers. Moreover, people who have been drinking often lose their sense of balance, which can result in dangerous falls.
Further, an individual’s ability to think clearly is obstructed and his or her inhibitions are loosened, both of which can lead to poor decision-making. Alcohol likewise prevents the brain from storing memories as it normally does, which is why most people have trouble remembering events at which they consumed a large amount of alcohol.
If a person drank heavily for a long period, irreversible brain damage could be the outcome. That individual might suffer from permanent memory loss and an inability to control the emotions.
The Digestive System
The liver cleanses the blood as it leaves the digestive tract. However, over time, filtering out alcohol can strain the liver and cause scar tissue to overtake healthy tissue, leading to a medical condition called cirrhosis. This disease often causes liver failure, which can be fatal.
Note that women are more prone to liver disease than men. In part, that’s because women tend to absorb more of the alcohol they drink.
Near the liver is the pancreas, which produces enzymes that aid the digestive process. However, excessive alcohol intake can stimulate the pancreas to produce too many of those enzymes, which in turn can cause pancreatitis. That painful condition is sometimes chronic, and it can interfere with proper digestion (2).
Without a healthy liver and pancreas, the body might not process sugar correctly or produce a sufficient amount of insulin. Thus, a person can be susceptible to hyperglycemia (too much blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar).
Heavy drinking can also make it difficult to digest nutrients correctly, which can bring about malnutrition.
The Heart, the Skin, and More
As the years pass, routine or periodic excess drinking can cause the cardiovascular muscles to stretch. High blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat can then develop (3).
In addition, the diuretic nature of alcohol dehydrates the skin, and its toxic content can make the skin seem older than it is (4). Alcohol also eliminates healthy bacteria inside the body and disturbs the balance of hormones, which sometimes prompts skin inflammation, redness, and acne breakouts.
Copious drinking may also curtail a person’s sexuality. It often prevents the body from secreting sex hormones, which can result in infertility, erectile dysfunction, and a loss of sexual interest.
Especially worrisome, medical researchers have linked long-term alcohol consumption to various cancers, including cancers of the esophagus, breast, liver, and colon. It appears to be a carcinogen that destroys healthy cells and makes space for cancerous replacements.
An effective method for overcoming alcohol addiction is medical detoxification. During this process, a patient stays at a rehabilitation facility where trained healthcare providers carefully monitor him or her, and they offer counseling and medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. After this treatment, the patient goes immediately to a rehabilitation program.
With professional assistance, people may be able to stop the health effects of heavy drinking from becoming permanent. Contact us today to let us know if you are ready to get medical assistance; we at Serenity View are here to help you.