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Alcohol Treatment

Dangers of Alcohol Abuse and How to Find Support

Written By:

Alex Kudisch

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Most people don’t realize that alcohol is one of the most harmful substances out there. It can have long-term health risks, especially if you’re mixing alcohol with prescription or street drugs. Likewise, high blood alcohol levels for long periods can do significant damage to your mental health.

Generally, you don’t feel the impact on your body, but it starts when you take the first sip. If you drink, you’ve probably experienced some of alcohol’s effects, such as the hangover the next day, a headache, and a warm buzz. They don’t last long, so you tend to forget about them.

Occasional drinking may not be much of a concern. However, when you start binge drinking, you may notice health problems. Crestone Detox Austin – Alcohol & Drug Rehab professionals are here to help you stop your excessive drinking. Call for an appointment today!

If you’re not quite ready to start, let’s learn more about what excessive drinking does to your body!

What’s Moderate Drinking Mean?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control/Prevention) defines moderate alcohol use as:

  • One drink per day (women)
  • Two or fewer drinks every day (men)

In the past, guidance on alcohol use suggests that one daily drink doesn’t pose a risk of developing negative health effects.

Recent research from the World Health Organization indicates that if you consume alcohol at all, it could negatively impact your brain health. In a sense, even moderate drinking can be a bad thing.

Short-term Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol interferes with your brain’s communication pathways, even if you only have one beverage. Here are some of the temporary effects of alcohol you might notice:

  • Sense of giddiness or euphoria
  • Feelings of drowsiness or relaxation
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Mood changes
  • Slowed/slurred speech
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Head pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Trouble making decisions or focusing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Changes in perception, vision, and hearing
  • Memory problems or loss of consciousness (blackout)

Some of the effects of drinking alcohol can show up quickly after a single beverage. However, others may happen after having a few.

Long-term Effects of Alcohol Intoxication

Long-term alcohol use can lead to lasting issues that extend beyond your health and mood.

The long-term effects of alcohol consumption include:

  • Increase conflict and tension with family members and lovers
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Changes in sexual function and libido
  • Weakened immune system (you get sick more frequently)
  • Insomnia or other sleep concerns
  • Persistent mood changes, including irritability and anxiety
  • Nerve Cells Destroyed

Physical Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Here is a breakdown on how drinking alcohol can affect your body’s ability to function:

Endocrine and Digestive Glands

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Drinking too much alcohol could cause pancreatic inflammation and pancreatitis. This might lead to abdominal pain and is a long-term condition with many complications.

Inflammatory Damage

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The liver breaks down toxins and removes them from the body. Long-term alcohol use interferes with the process and can increase the risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease or chronic liver inflammation.

Alcoholic liver disease is a life-threatening condition that leads to waste/toxin buildup in the body. Too much alcohol may also cause cirrhosis or scarring, which could permanently damage the liver.

Sugar Levels

Your pancreas regulates how the body uses insulin. If it doesn’t function correctly because of excessive alcohol use, you may experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

A damaged pancreas may prevent you from producing insulin for sugar. This leads to too much sugar in your blood and could result in diabetes. It’s best to avoid many alcoholic beverages if you already have these conditions.

Central Nervous System

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Slurred speech is a clear indication of intoxication, and it happens because alcohol prevents your body and brain from communicating. It’s harder to balance, and you have a slower reaction time.

With time, chronic heavy drinking can lead to issues with caused by damaged nerve cells such as:

  • Regulating emotions
  • Making rational choices
  • Thinking clearly
  • Creating memories
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet

You may also get permanent brain damage and damage to the frontal lobe. This part of the brain helps with performance, social behaviors, decision-making, and abstract reasoning.

Digestive System

The connection between your digestive system and alcohol consumption is unclear because the side effects only happen after the damage occurs. Heavy drinking can lead to many digestive problems, such as:

  • Fullness in the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Hemorrhoids and ulcers
  • Painful stools or diarrhea

Circulatory System

Chronic heavy drinking could affect your lungs and heart, leading to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Difficulty for the blood vessels to pump blood through the body
  • Irregular heartbeat

Reproductive and Sexual Health

Heavy drinking can lower your inhibitions, which can:

  • Lower your libido
  • Prevent hormone production
  • Make it harder to orgasm
  • Prevent you from maintaining or getting an erection

Excessive alcohol use could affect a woman’s fertility and menstrual cycle.

Alcohol use during pregnancy is a poor choice. Pregnant women may have babies that have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Miscarriage and stillbirth are possible, and children may have developmental problems and learning difficulties.

Immune System

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Heavy alcohol consumption reduces your immune system, making it harder to protect from viruses and germs. Those who drink heavily over extended periods might develop tuberculosis or pneumonia. In fact, the World Health Organization links 8.1 percent of tuberculosis cases to drinking alcohol.

You may also have a higher alcohol and cancer risk. Frequent drinking leads to alcohol-associated cancer options, such as in the liver, colon, breast, and more.

Psychological Effects of Alcohol

Long-term heavy drinking might lead to brain changes affecting your:

  • Impulse control
  • Concentration and memory
  • Personality, mood, and emotions

Your mental health might be affected, or you may develop bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety.

Alcohol-induced Mental Health Problems

Alcohol use factors into your mental health symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders is used to diagnose mental health conditions, such as:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depressive disorder
  • Sleep disorder
  • Psychotic disorder

Typically, you only notice issues while intoxicated, which improve after stopping alcohol use.

Dependence

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You may develop a tolerance to alcohol, so you must drink more to get the same effects. When you stop drinking, you notice many symptoms that ease once you take another drink.

Alcohol dependence and tolerance are both parts of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder used to be called alcoholism. Regardless, you could face:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings
  • Drinking more
  • Having trouble stopping
  • Inability to stop drinking

We can help you overcome alcohol abuse! Please call for an appointment today!

Alcohol Withdrawal

Sometimes, withdrawal is challenging or life-threatening. It’s best to seek our help for substance abuse. If you drink alcohol every day, the “cold turkey” approach might not be safe. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety

We can help with medical detox and other services!

Risk Factors of Excessive Alcohol Use

Here are a few factors that increase your chance of getting alcohol use disorder:

  • Binge drinking
  • Heavy drinking
  • Ongoing stress
  • Having a mental health condition
  • Having a close relative who suffers from alcohol abuse

Finding Appropriate Treatment for Your Alcohol Use Disorder with Crestone

If you think you have an alcohol use disorder, it’s important to seek treatment. Crestone Detox Austin – Alcohol & Drug Rehab can help.

We offer medications and medical detox and can help you find support groups for recovery. Alcohol use disorder doesn’t have to overtake your life. You can prevent your alcohol-related problems with our services.

Stop excessive alcohol consumption before it’s too late. Call us to make an appointment!

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Alex Kudisch
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