The Long and Short Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is one of the drugs that belongs to the central nervous system depressants (CNS) group. Abuse of alcohol over the long term inevitably leads to an addiction. But there are many notable short term effects of alcohol abuse, too. In this article, we will explore the side effects of alcohol abuse, including the short and long effects that it has on the abuser.
What Is Considered Alcohol Abuse?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) specifies what a standard drink is. According to them, a standard drink in the United States is:
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of spirits
- 12 ounces of beer
With this classification, the NIAAA goes on to explain what is considered to be low-risk drinking. Staying within these limits greatly reduces your chance to become an alcoholic, and helps to avoid the dangers of binge drinking. The limits are as follows:
- Men – For a man to avoid dangerous drinking levels they must limit their drinking to no more than 4 drinks in one day, and no more than 14 throughout the week.
- Women – The suggested limits for women are no more than 3 drinks in a day and 7 in the entire week.
Short Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse
When a person starts to partake in heavy or binge drinking, then they can suffer from the many side effects of alcohol abuse. The most common short term effects of alcohol abuse include the following:
- Losing consciousness
- Poor coordination and possible injury as a result
- Alcohol poisoning, which can lead to coma and even death
- Slurred speech
- Strained breathing
- Reduced reaction time
Long-Term Risks of Alcohol Abuse
Now that we’ve looked at short term effects of alcohol abuse, we will explore the dangers of extended heavy and binge drinking. Binge drinking occurs when a person drinks more than the suggested safe limits in a day. Heavy drinking is when these limits are broken on at least five occasions in a single month.
The risks involved with long-term drinking should not to be ignored. It can have a devastating effect on many major organs throughout the body. The most notable organs that are affected include the following:
- Effects of alcohol on the brain – The effects of alcohol on the brain, since it is a CNS depressant, can be severe. With extended use it can create disruptions in the communication pathways in the brain and body, with eventually leads to altered behavior, fluctuations in mood, and can potently lead to permanent brain damage, which can cause a host of problems such as poor memory.
- Effects of alcohol on the heart – Even just one binge drinking session can cause heart problems such as a heart arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure and a stroke.
- Effects of alcohol on the liver – Your liver is responsible for filtering toxins in the body, and since alcohol is a toxin, it becomes overworked when a person excessively uses alcohol. Eventually, it can lead to fibrosis, steatosis, hepatis and cirrhosis.
- Effects of alcohol on the pancreas – One of the major concerns of continued alcohol abuse is pancreatitis. This can lead to severe digestive problems among other issues.
- Several forms of cancer – Alcohol abuse is linked to several life-threatening forms of cancer such as breast, esophagus, neck, head, liver and colorectal cancer.
Of course, the sooner a person stop their abuse of alcohol, the less damage it can do the body. It can be difficult to stop drinking alone and if you or someone you care about needs help to become sober, then call WhiteSands at (877) 855-3470.
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.