Alcohol is by far the most frequently abused chemical substance throughout the country – and has reigned supreme since its introduction into society. While many tend to partake in alcohol consumption because it is “safe” and socially acceptable, the long-term effects of prolonged alcohol abuse are extremely detrimental, and often lethal. However, long-term effects of alcohol consumption can have cardioprotective health benefits. Though be weary of using this as an excuse if you tend to imbibe more than you should. One glass of wine on a Saturday night is exceedingly different than a fifth of vodka first thing in the morning. If you are overindulging, the consequences may be fatal.
Long-Term Consequences of Alcoholism
Long-term effects of alcohol abuse include malnutrition, alcoholic liver disease, chronic pancreatitis, and cancer. Psychological damage is also likely to be done with extended periods of daily and excessive alcohol consumption. Many chronic alcoholics will begin hallucinating or becoming delusional after years of daily use. Typically, there are twelve major risks involved with chronic alcoholism. Each is severe, and many can co-occur depending on the severity of the alcoholism.
Heavy drinking has been known to inflame the pancreas, interfering with the digestive process. Up to 60% of pancreatitis cases are caused solely by heavy drinking.
Gout is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals within the joints. Heavy alcohol consumption can cause gout, as well as aggravate existing cases.
- Cardiovascular Disease
When one is drinking heavily on a regular basis, their platelets are more likely to clump together and for blood clots. In many instances, increase in blood clots will eventually lead to heart attack or stroke.
Alcohol is extremely toxic to liver cells. After prolonged periods of heavy drinking, the liver may be so scarred it cannot function properly. Liver function is essential to overall health, and cirrhosis can be lethal.
- High Blood Pressure
Over-consumption of alcohol can disrupt the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the constriction and dilation of blood vessels.
- Nerve Damage
Alcoholism is known to cause what is called alcoholic neuropathy – a painful condition that arises because alcohol is highly toxic to nerve cells.
Alcoholism causes the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells to diminish, resulting in anemia. Anemia may cause shortness of breath, fatigue, and dizziness.
When large amounts of alcohol are consumed, the body converts it into acetaldehyde – a potent carcinogen. Cancer is more common amongst drinkers that additionally use tobacco regularly.
Alcoholism speeds up brain atrophy – the shrinkage of the brain. Memory loss is an extremely common side effect amongst binge and daily drinkers.
Not only does heavy drinking cause epilepsy, and sometimes cause seizures in those who do not have epilepsy – alcohol consumption also interferes with medications used to treat convulsions.
Recent studies show that depression actually results from extensive heavy drinking, rather than the other way around. Additionally, symptoms of depression are proven to decrease once an alcoholic maintains sobriety for a prolonged period of time.
12. Infectious Diseases
Not only does alcohol consumption majorly suppress the immune system, but those who drink excessively are more likely to engage in risky sex – therefore contracting sexually transmitted diseases.