Long Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows down vital functions of the brain. Based on research by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.1 million people within the age range of 18 years and above in the United States had alcohol use disorder (AUD), or about 6.2% of this age bracket.

Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol has the ability to affect your body and mind and begins to make an impact on your body from the moment you take your first drink. While an occasional glass of wine with dinner is not that alarming, the effects of drinking beer, wine, or spirits can take their toll when accumulated.

The following are the significant long-term effects of alcohol on the body:

#1. Immune system
The first long-term adverse effect of alcohol is the reduction of your body's natural immune system. Your body finds it difficult to fight off invading germs and viruses when you have a weak immune system. For example, research shows that the heavy consumption of alcohol over a long period of time increases your likeliness to develop pneumonia or tuberculosis. 

#2. Sexual and reproductive health
Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to sexual dysfunction.  For example, men who abuse alcohol are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Heavy drinking can also lower libido and prevent sex hormone production. Women who drink heavily may have difficulty during menstruation, and in some cases, may stop menstruating completely. During pregnancy, women who drink heavily have a higher risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and stillbirth, and putting their unborn kids at risk. Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASD) are a crucial concern. Other conditions include physical development abnormalities, learning difficulties, increased emotional problems, and long-term health issues.

#3. Dependency
Another significant long-term effect of alcohol abuse is that it can lead to emotional and physical dependency. For some, withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening. Medically monitored detox may become necessary. 

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include; heavy sweating, anxiety, high blood pressure, nausea, nervousness, tremors, and irregular heartbeat. Seizures, hallucinations, and delirium may occur in severe cases of withdrawal.

#4. Central nervous system
Understanding the effects of alcohol on your central nervous system (CNS) is one of the simplest and surest ways to understand alcohol's impact on your body. Alcohol can reduce the communication between your brain and your body, which makes coordination harder. Slurred speech is one of the first responses to heavy drinking. You may also experience numbness and tingling sensations in your hands and feet due to the effects of the alcohol.

Long-term alcohol abuse can create brain damage. Some of the effects include memory loss, reduced concentration, impaired decision-making skills, impaired judgment and decreased emotional control. 

#5. Intestinal Inflammation
Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time results in various changes in the body and can cause intestinal inflammation. Over an extended period, the inflammation results in organ dysfunction in the body, particularly in the brain and the liver. Excessive intake of alcohol may also lead to "leaky" intestinal walls which affect your body’s ability to remove toxins from your system.

#6. Cancer
Research has shown that heavy alcohol consumption boosts the risk of several forms of cancer. The higher the consumption of alcohol, the greater the cancer risk. Increased risk of esophageal and breast cancers begins at less than one drink daily. Only cancers like liver, colorectal, and laryngeal cancer increase in greater alcohol use. 

We Can Help!

Online Treatment Programs provides Teletherapy Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs allowing participants to receive intensive therapy with our licensed therapists and psychiatrists without having to leave home.  If you or someone you know is struggling to overcome depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, alcoholism, drug abuse, or other mental health or addiction issues, we can help.  To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our teletherapy programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

MHThrive provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit our website to learn more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Online Treatment Programs

08 December, 2022

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