Most people can enjoy drinking alcohol without experiencing any problems; however, drinking heavily for long periods of time may have serious consequences. Drinking too much alcohol can harm the individual physically, psychologically and socially. Misuse of alcohol can lead to accidents (particularly motor vehicle accidents while driving under the influence of alcohol). Alcohol abuse also leads to crime and violence, and legal problems due to drunk driving.
How alcohol affects the brain
Drinking heavily can cause anxiety, blackouts, and memory loss. Long-term drinking can lead to permanent brain damage, alcohol addiction, and serious mental problems. Young people are most at risk of having severe problems with alcohol because their brains are still developing in their teenage years. Alcohol may damage parts of the brain that affect a person’s behavior or his/her ability to remember and learn.
How alcohol affects the bones
Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to soak up calcium and as a result the bones become thin and weak. When the bones lose their density, the condition is called osteoporosis.
Alcohol and cancer
Alcohol is the second largest risk factor for throat and mouth cancers. People suffering from alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver may ultimately develop liver cancer.
How alcohol affects the heart and circulatory system
Alcohol may cause hypertension (high blood pressure) and it may also increase the risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. Alcohol abuse causes deterioration of the heart muscles, causing problems with the liver, brain, lungs and other systems which result from heart failure. Drinking heavily over a long period of time may lead to heart arrhythmias; alcohol abuse has been linked with sudden death, in some cases.
How alcohol affects the intestines
Heavy drinking can lead to ulcers in the colon and colon cancer. Alcohol consumption also affects the body’s capability to soak up vitamins and nutrients.
How alcohol affects the kidneys
Alcohol abuse may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure; this is the main reason for chronic kidney disease.
How alcohol affects the liver
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may lead to the development of fat deposits in the liver. Chronic alcohol abuse can cause inflammation of the liver, which can lead to alcoholic hepatitis; this can lead to liver failure and death. Drinking too much alcohol may cause permanent damage to the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Women alcoholics are predominately at risk for liver problems.
How alcohol affects the lungs
People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are more at risk for lung infections. They are particularly more at risk for developing pneumonia and collapse of a lung.
How alcohol affects mental health
People may think that alcohol helps them cope with complex emotions and situations, but it doesn’t. People often drink to alleviate stress or anxiety, yet, alcohol consumption is connected with mental health problems such as anxiety, risky behavior, and depression, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
How alcohol affects the pancreas
Prolonged use of alcohol may cause swelling of the pancreas, which may be very painful and cause fever, vomiting and weight loss.
How alcohol affects the skin
Alcohol dehydrates the body as well as the skin. It also causes vasodilatation which causes the skin to look red.
Alcohol abuse may lead to internal bleeding, stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. Alcohol may cause irritation to the stomach which may stop food from being digested properly, which may also lead to stomach cancer. Sometimes, people who drink too much are thin, because they have stomach problems. Many of the people who don’t suffer from stomach complications may be overweight, because alcohol contains many calories.
Drinking alcohol in moderation can be good for us; a glass of wine at dinner can help keep the heart healthy. However, when we abuse alcohol, we set ourselves up to become sick; the problems that alcohol abuse causes can be life threatening.
Know your Limits
How alcohol works