Find out how the long term effects of alcohol addiction damage the well-being of users and their loved ones
The long term effects of alcohol addiction cause significant damage to the mental and physical well-being of alcoholics. Over time, alcohol addiction also burdens the addict’s family and friends, as well as society in general, with increased health costs, higher rates of violence and deaths, and social instability. These effects of alcohol addiction multiply over time and cause problems for years to come. If you or someone you know is having a hard time accepting the need to overcome their addiction to alcohol, a closer look at the devastating long term effects of alcohol addiction may provide the necessary incentive to seek treatment.
Over time, alcohol addiction causes considerable damage to a number of systems in a drinker’s body. These effects are cumulative, growing in severity and scope as alcoholism progresses. One of the most dangerous effects of long term alcohol abuse on the body is an increased risk of developing certain cancers. These cancers are particularly prevalent in areas of the body that come directly in contact with alcohol, including the mouth, esophagus, throat, and liver.
The long term effects of alcohol on the body can be seen in the damage that occurs in the major organs of drinkers. Over time, this damage can lead to a number of conditions that negatively affect alcoholics’ health. The organs that see the most damage from chronic alcohol use include:
- Heart – Alcohol abuse can damage the heart and cause a range of serious , even life-threatening problems including arrhythmias, stroke, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscle)
- Liver – Because our liver is responsible for metabolizing alcohol, it becomes severely damaged and scarred by long term heavy alcohol use. The livers of alcoholics develop chronic inflammatory conditions including steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis
- Pancreas – Alcohol causes the production of toxic substances in the pancreas. Over time, these substances can cause pancreatitis, a condition where blood vessels in the pancreas become dangerously inflamed and swollen, preventing proper digestion
- Immune system – Chronic alcohol addiction weakens the immune system of drinkers, leaving them vulnerable to infections and opportunistic diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis
Long term effects of alcohol on the brain
The muzzy-headed confusion and mental fog that drinkers experience during a hangover is a precursor to the brain damage that occurs with long term alcohol abuse. Alcohol shrinks and disturbs brain tissue, damaging communication pathways in the brain. Long time alcoholics display signs of disordered thinking, depression, and short-term memory loss.
Social effects of alcohol addiction
Excessive consumption of alcohol causes massive changes to the personality of alcoholics over time. These changes cause alcoholics to display habitually bad judgement and poor impulse control. Many of the social effects of alcohol addiction can be attributed to how these behavioral changes affect the way alcoholics interact with others. Some key facts about the social problems associated with alcohol addiction:
- Alcohol addiction damages the ability of users to meet their daily responsibilities, negatively affects careers, and leads to an increased rate of unemployment and financial instability. More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study. That means that one in ten children live in a precarious state due to alcohol addiction.
- Almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver every day. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes.
- 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use.
- More than half of all violent crimes in the United States involve alcohol use by the perpetrator or victim.
- Excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $249 billion in 2010, through a combination of losses in workplace productivity, health care expenses, and other costs due to a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage.
While alcohol addiction exacts a devastating toll on users and their families, some of the long-term effects of alcohol addiction can be minimized or even reversed if individuals stop drinking. If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol, an addiction rehab program can provide the necessary help to overcome your addiction and stop abusing alcohol.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.