There’s an old saying that goes, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.” This could not be further from the truth, especially when it comes to the effects of alcohol abuse. Before your next trip to the bar, consider these facts about alcohol and the ways in which it jeopardizes your health:
Alcohol is the most commonly used and most accessible addictive substance in the United States today. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, more than 17 million adults (18 and older) suffer some form of alcohol abuse disorder — this is roughly 7 percent of the American adult population. In addition, more than seven million children live in a home with at least one parent who abuses alcohol.
Ethyl alcohol is the ingredient in all alcoholic drinks that triggers intoxication. When you consume it in moderation, your liver can metabolize it without much difficulty. However, heavy drinking can overwhelm your liver to the point where any leftover ethyl alcohol circulates to other organs, including your brain.
The effects of alcohol abuse can lead to a change in your brain chemistry. Your brain constantly adapts to your environment for better functionality and performance. When you consume alcohol on a regular basis, this tricks your brain into interpreting the alcohol as a new environment to adapt to. The brain then changes nerve cells and connectivity to help stabilize you when you have alcohol in your system. This results in tolerance, which may lead to alcoholism.
Withdrawing from alcohol without professional help is incredibly dangerous. If your body and brain are dependent on alcohol, cutting off the supply can lead to anything from tremors to uncontrollable seizures. Both are considered medical emergencies and demand immediate hospitalization.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are actually very different. Alcohol abuse is when drinking causes problems in your life that might not be physical. A common example is relationship problems. Alternatively, alcoholism is when the brain forms a physical and psychological dependency on alcohol to function “normally.” Both can be treated, but alcoholism is a chronic disease that is never truly cured.
Alcoholism can run in families. In fact, it’s been argued that the strongest risk factor for developing an addiction to alcohol is a genetic predisposition. The combined genes from your alcoholic parents and the environment in which you were raised (nature and nurture) can contribute to your potential alcohol abuse.
The effects of alcohol abuse are different between men and women. Women are usually at greater risk of developing long-term health complications from the effects of alcohol abuse since their bodies metabolize alcohol more slowly than men’s. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to land themselves in the hospital as a result of engaging in high-risk behaviors during heavy drinking.
Alcohol consumption is one of the leading causes of death— and also the third most preventable cause of death— in the United States today. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 88,000 American adults die of alcohol-related incidents every year. Alcohol is a depressive substance that slows your breathing, so drinking too much can actually cause you to suffocate.
Even when it doesn’t kill you, excessive drinking puts you at risk for other diseases. In fact, cancer of the mouth, colon, rectal, stomach, and esophagus have been proven to be linked to alcohol abuse. This is because excessive drinking can weaken your immune system, making your body much more susceptible to disease. Other illnesses that can be triggered by excessive alcohol consumption include pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Alcohol abuse does more than internal damage. Through a variety of studies, it has been linked to harmful conditions and behaviors such as depression, anxiety, violence, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, drowning, and more.
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These are just some of the lesser known facts about the effects of alcohol abuse. If you have any questions or would like more information about our services and rehab programs, please call (877)-2REBOUND.