It is easy to forget that alcohol is a chemical substance capable of causing harm to both physical and mental health. Moreover, since it is widely available, socially acceptable, and legal, most people do not comprehend the link between poor health and alcohol. However, it is important to remember that alcohol is a toxic substance that can cause addiction as well as a range of both mental and physical conditions. Those who regularly drink more than the UK governments recommended weekly guideline allowance of fourteen units are risking an increased tolerance to the effects of alcohol and could be in danger of going on to develop a physical dependence, followed by a crippling addiction. So, what does alcohol addiction do to your body?
Revealed The Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Alcohol affects almost every cell in the body, and even a small amount can cause harm. The body is capable of processing approximately one unit of alcohol per hour, so those who consume more than this will quickly begin to feel the short-term effects, becoming intoxicated or drunk.
From the first sip of alcohol, the effects begin within the body, even if these are not immediately apparent. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and makes its way to various organs, starting with the brain. If the person consumes more than the body can effectively process, it will quickly become noticeable. With just one to two units, the heart rate begins to accelerate and blood vessels will expand. The effect of this is that the individual will feel warmer, happier, and more sociable.
Nevertheless, the effects become more apparent after four to six units, when the brain and nervous system are affected. Alcohol can interfere with communication pathways in the brain, which can lead to a change in the persons mood. It will affect his or her behaviour and the ability to think logically. It may result in lowered inhibitions and the affected individual becoming more reckless. Poor coordination and dizziness can also occur as the alcohol begins to impact on the nervous system.
After eight to nine units, the individual will appear quite intoxicated and may struggle to focus. It is also common at this point to suffer with slurred speech and slower reaction times. It is unlikely that the body will manage to process all this alcohol overnight and the individual will usually wake up still feeling the effects; this is called a hangover.
Consuming ten to twelve units of alcohol in one session will seriously impair an individuals ability to function properly. He or she will struggle with coordination and is at risk of being involved in an accident. As the body views this level of alcohol as toxic, it will try to eliminate it as quickly as it can, which can lead to dehydration. It is common for those who have consumed this amount of alcohol to experience a bad headache, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and diarrhoea.
Consuming more than twelve units of alcohol is dangerous for many reasons. It will increase the risk of alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. This much alcohol in the system can affect the individuals heart rate, breathing and gag reflex. It could potentially result in the person falling unconscious and choking on their vomit.
But How Does Alcohol Addiction Affect the Body?
The above are the immediate effects that alcohol can have on the body when consumed over a short period. However, those who are classed as having an alcohol addiction will be putting their body at further risk as there are many longer-term effects of alcohol abuse as well.
In fact, alcohol is considered one of the top three contributors to poor health and premature death in the United Kingdom. It affects all parts of the body and can lead to life-threatening conditions. Below we have listed some of the organs affected by alcohol addiction:
- Brain Even a small amount of alcohol affects the brain, but those who suffer with alcohol addiction may often notice periods of not remembering anything. These blackouts are called temporary amnesia, and continued alcohol abuse can cause Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is a disorder that impairs memory, speech, and vision; it can also lead to seizures. Alcohol abuse can also result in various mental health problems such as chronic depression, anxiety disorder, and dementia.
- Liver As the liver is responsible for filtering alcohol from the body, it is easy to realise how it can be affected by constant alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause fat to accumulate in this organ, resulting in fatty liver disease, which in turn causes inflammation of the liver. Continued alcohol abuse can then give rise to various other conditions such as alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and liver failure.
- Heart Heart disease is common among alcoholics. Various heart conditions occur because of excessive alcohol consumption including cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure.
- Stomach Alcohol addiction also affects the stomach. An increased production of stomach acid occurs when elevated levels of alcohol are consumed, which can cause irritation and inflammation of the lining of the stomach. This could lead to ulcers, bleeding and even rips in the lining.
- Pancreas Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis, which can lead to pancreatic cancer. The pancreas is responsible for the production of insulin, but excessive alcohol can impair this organs ability to produce enough of it, which can in turn lead to diabetes.
If you have ever wondered what alcohol addiction does to your body, you might be extremely surprised at the information listed above. However, there are many other ways that alcohol can affect the body too. It can also have an impact on sexual health and the reproductive system, making it harder to conceive. It is linked to hundreds of other health problems as well (way too many to list in this article), including seven forms of cancer.
Alcohol addiction can lead to a weakened immune system, which can then open up the possibility of many diseases. It is common for alcoholics to suffer from lung infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
It is also usual for alcoholics to get most of their calories from alcohol; from this you can deduce that most do not eat a healthy, balanced diet. This can lead to malnutrition.
Is Overcoming Alcohol Addiction Possible?
One piece of good news about alcohol addiction is that it is a treatable illness. Those affected are never beyond hope, and much of the damage caused by this substance can be reversed with lifelong abstinence. It is important that those affected reach out for help as soon as possible though, as the earlier they seek help, the higher their chances of a full recovery.
If you would like to put your alcohol abuse days behind you, call us here at UK Rehab. We have experience of helping individuals struggling with many different types of addiction, including alcohol addiction. Those who call us often wonder what alcohol addiction does to their body and are surprised when we tell them the many ways in which it causes harm.
However, we know from experience that with a real desire to change and the motivation to succeed, anyone can beat an alcohol addiction once and for all. So when it comes to the question of what does alcohol addiction do to your body, call today for more information on this as well as how we can help you going forward.