Addiction and Your Loved One: Understanding the Physical Effects of Alcohol

Did you know that alcohol’s impact on the body starts the second you take a sip? According to a report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2017, more than 14 million Americans over the age of 12 have an alcohol use disorder. And what’s more, 26.9% of adults admitted to binge drinking within the past month.

Whether or not your loved one abuses alcohol regularly, there are still short-term and long-term physical consequences of drinking in excess.

5 Short-Term Physical Effects of Alcohol

In general, the body can typically metabolize one alcoholic drink each hour. Drinking more quickly than your body can metabolize the alcohol is what leads to an increased blood alcohol content and drunkenness.

While the short-term effects of alcohol can vary for each individual, below are the 5 most common physical effects of drinking:

  1. Slurred speech – Typically the first sign of over-drinking
  2. Increased blood pressure – This can pose a risk for people who already have high blood pressure
  3. Blurred vision – Dulled perception and loss of coordination are common side-effects of intoxication
  4. Passing out – This doesn’t happen to everyone, but is common when binge drinking
  5. Vomiting – When the body is flooded with alcohol, it is common for people to vomit

These physical symptoms are usually temporary and range from mild to more severe. Over drinking on occasion may do little long-term damage to the body, but it could lead to a more dangerous habit if not monitored closely.

5 Long-Term Physical Effects of Alcohol

Prolonged use of alcohol can lead to a variety of issues within the body that are sometimes irreversible. One of the most important aspects of drinking heavily is that it can lead to a physical and emotional dependence. When drinking gets to this level, it’s necessary to seek professional help, as withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous and in some cases, life threatening.

Other dangerous long-term effects of alcohol on the body include:

  1. Pancreatitis – Drinking too much can cause a buildup of abnormal enzymes in the body leading to inflammation and even hyperglycemia (the presence of too much sugar in the blood).
  2. Liver damage – One of the most common long-term effects of alcohol abuse, when the liver becomes damaged from over-drinking it is difficult for it to remove toxic substances in the body.
  3. Cancer – Alcoholism has been linked to throat, mouth, larynx, breast, liver, colorectal and esophageal cancers.
  4. Cardiovascular Issues – Alcohol-related cardiovascular diseases are common because alcohol is linked to high blood pressure, blood clots, irregular heartbeat, stroke and heart attacks.
  5. Central Nervous System Complications – Chronic drinking can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Symptoms include confusion, learning problems, memory issues and depression.

The scary part is that this isn’t even a comprehensive list of the short- and long-term effects of alcohol on the body. The goal of this list is to help you understand the risks associated with alcoholism. If you know your loved one has a complicated relationship with alcohol, it’s important to get them the help they need as soon as possible.

Finding Hope at Spirit Mountain Recovery Center

Spirit Mountain Recovery is ideally located in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, just north of Salt Lake City. Our addiction treatment programs go beyond the traditional recovery to help men reorient their life goals and find hope outside of addiction. We’d love to speak with you. Contact us today to speak directly with an admissions counselor about your loved one.

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