Alcohol affects both the mind and body no matter how little is consumed. When large quantities are consumed regularly over extended periods of time, the effects of alcohol can be very serious. One should never underestimate how much damage excessive drinking can cause.
The most important thing about excessive drinking is that it always qualifies as misuse. Uncontrolled alcohol misuse very often leads to alcohol abuse which, when left untreated, almost always leads to alcoholism. Therefore, alcohol misuse and abuse should not be taken lightly. Both are serious problems that can have devastating consequences.
For the remainder of this guide, we will address alcohol abuse specifically. Alcohol abuse affects both the body and mind, resulting in consequences that are felt in every area of life. Alcohol abuse touches the home, the workplace, and almost every other aspect of culture and society.
Definition of Alcohol Abuse
In the simplest terms possible, alcohol abuse is characterised by routinely and persistently drinking more than two units of alcohol per day or 14 units per week. For example, you may have three or four drinks at a holiday party despite having had no more than one or two drinks per week in the previous 12 months. This one-off episode would be considered alcohol misuse rather than abuse. However, drinking three or four drinks per day, over several weeks or months, would constitute alcohol abuse.
You may be an alcohol abuser if:
- you often feel as though you can and should cut down
- other people show concern over your drinking habits
- you often feel guilty about how much you drink
- you feel like you need to drink to calm your nerves or relax.
If you are an alcohol abuser, know that ongoing drinking will affect your mind and body. Some of the damage done by alcohol is temporary and can be reversed through proper medical treatment. However, some of the damage can be permanent.
Effects of Alcohol on the Body
The human body is only able to process a limited amount of alcohol at any one time. What is not absorbed by the liver is then allowed to freely travel throughout the body, where it can do tremendous damage. Alcohol can also damage the liver itself, causing greater complications in the future. In fact, chronic liver disease is one of the most persistent medical problems experienced by alcohol abusers.
Liver disease is devastating because it is irreversible and untreatable. Once an alcohol abuser reaches the point of liver failure, there are only two options: receive a liver transplant or die. This is serious business, for sure. Beyond liver disease, alcohol affects the body in other ways:
- Excessive drinking is linked to several kinds of cancers, including oral and liver cancer
- Long-term exposure to alcohol increases the risk of developing pancreatitis and diabetes
- Excessive drinking has been linked to heart disease, malnutrition, and other conditions
- Alcohol abusers tend to have more problems with malnutrition and healthy weight maintenance
- Excessive alcohol can cause bloating in the face, dry skin, dark circles under the eyes, etc.
It is evident that alcohol affects the body in numerous ways. Therefore, alcohol abuse is one way to guarantee you will experience physical problems that can make your life unbearable. Alcohol even kills in extreme cases.
Effects of Alcohol on the Mind
The physical effects of alcohol on the brain play out in additional effects on the mind and emotions. For example, alcohol consumption alters brain chemistry in such a way that abusers often develop clinical depression. As long as the abuser continues to drink, his or her depression will remain chronic. It may even become more serious over time due to the continuous alcohol addiction.
Alcohol abuse can also lead to:
- clinical anxiety
- psychosis (i.e., hallucinations and delusional behaviours)
- anti-social behaviours including aggression and violence
- loss of self-discipline and self-control
- impaired memory and cognitive function
- mental and emotional dependence on alcohol.
The effects of alcohol on the mind are particularly troubling because of the results they produce. Take the loss of cognitive function, for example. Because a brain under the effects of alcohol does not process thoughts in a rational way, it is common for alcohol abusers to sincerely believe that drinking is the only thing helping them cope with life. Their judgement is so impaired that it is impossible for them to see that alcohol is the cause of their problems.
As alcohol abuse progresses over time, it becomes more and more difficult to reverse the thought patterns and emotions that go along with it. This is why extensive psychotherapy is necessary to both overcome alcoholism and prevent future relapse. The mind, thoughts and emotions must be dealt with so that the alcohol abuser can begin thinking rationally again.
Other Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Observing the adverse effects of alcohol on the mind and body should be sufficient motivation to get help as an abuser. But if not, consider some other effects of alcohol abuse, beginning with those observed in the family.
Alcohol abusers routinely experience a breakdown of family relationships. They find they can no longer get along with a spouse or partner; they find the kids to be too much of a nuisance or bother. Some cases of alcohol abuse result in the physical or verbal abuse of family members. It is normal for families to break up as a result of alcohol abuse.
Abusing alcohol also affects employment. A person routinely under the influence cannot perform up to standards and, as a result, he or she is eventually dismissed. In the meantime, that person is alienating co-workers, driving away customers, and harming the reputation of the employer.
There is a lot more we can say about the effects of alcohol abuse. The point is, you need help if you are misusing or abusing alcohol. Contact us today for that help. We can connect you with the treatment provider in your local area who can enable you to overcome your drinking problem once and for all.