Drinking alcohol in moderation is considered quite safe. However, when it comes to binge drinking or long-term heavy drinking, alcohol can be very harmful to both the mind and the body. According to Dr Samuel Ball from Columbia University’s National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse, alcohol can have an effect on many more parts of the mind and body than previously thought.
Dr Ball says that drinking alcohol can cause many problems and can even result in some people ending up in nursing homes in later life.
How Alcohol Affects the Mind and Body
Those who drink alcohol frequently may find that their brain‘s pleasure centres are severely affected. Alcohol is associated with pleasure and, as a result, many people will feel as though they need more and more alcohol in order to experience the same pleasure. For some individuals, alcohol can become quite addictive, and the brain will get used to the external stimulant. Dr Ball says, “Some of those dopamine receptors become less sensitive, less productive of dopamine.”
However, he also says that those with alcohol addictions can gain full mental health again if they give up alcohol.
Alcohol can affect memory and can impair cognitive functions. The hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning, is affected by alcohol; heavy drinkers are at risk of damaging their long-term memory; heavy drinkers may find that their ability to recall facts is hampered. It is not yet known if the hippocampus can fully recover after long periods of excessive drinking.
Effect on the Body
Alcohol not only affects the mind; it also affects parts of the body. Regular drinkers may find that they suffer from throat problems such as difficulty swallowing and pain. Others will suffer from ulcers and digestive problems. Some long-term drinkers will develop cirrhosis of the liver and even cancer as a result of their excessive consumption of alcohol. The sooner a person stops drinking, the more chance there is that they will not suffer such extreme illnesses as the aforementioned cirrhosis and cancer.
Those who drink large amounts of alcohol may suffer from mental issues including paranoia and depression. The more a person drinks, the more their brain is affected, with some individuals developing conditions such as psychosis. A number of alcoholics may experience suicidal thoughts, and some will even go on to take their life.
As we have seen from the above, alcohol can seriously affect mind and body health, and those who continue to drink throughout their lives may find that their remaining days are spent in a nursing home. Dr Ball warns that some brain problems can result in serious conditions such as dementia. He says, “People become extremely ill and go into a nursing home – or just die.”
Alcohol addiction affects many people in the UK. It is also responsible for thousands of hospital admissions each year and puts a terrible strain on the NHS. Nevertheless, there are many treatment programmes available all over the country, from both public and private organisations.
One of the biggest issues facing the family members of an alcoholic is getting their loved one to admit to having a problem. Many addicts will be in denial and will not want to admit that their drinking has become an addiction.
However, once they have come to terms with the fact that they do indeed have a problem, they may be more willing to accept help. Rehab Helper is a free referral service that works with addicts all over the UK. We can put you in touch with a suitable rehabilitation clinic from which you can begin your journey towards a sober life. For more information, contact Rehab Helper today.