Health Risks of Alcohol: Problems Caused By Chronic Heavy Drinking

Even though alcohol has become a significant part of everyday life, early-stage alcoholics often deny that they have a problem and may be defensive about their drinking. They may also rationalize, or make excuses, for their behavior and insist they can stop drinking whenever they feel like it. As alcohol consumption increases, the liver adapts to break down alcohol more quickly. Over time, repeated alcohol exposure also alters a person’s brain chemistry. To counteract the sedating effects of alcohol, for example, the brain increases the activity of excitatory neurotransmitters, which speed up brain activity.

Don’t play doctor—cold showers, hot coffee, and walking do not reverse the effects of alcohol overdose and could actually make things worse. Using alcohol with opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone and morphine, or illicit opioids, such as heroin, is also a very dangerous combination. Like alcohol, these drugs suppress areas in the brain that control vital functions such as breathing. Ingesting alcohol and other drugs together intensifies their individual effects and could produce an overdose with even moderate amounts of alcohol. What tips the balance from drinking that produces impairment to drinking that puts one’s life in jeopardy varies among individuals.

Start the road to recovery

End-stage alcoholics are also at a high risk of dying from accidents, trauma and suicide. Stopping is impossible at this point without professional help because of the severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that would occur if they quit cold turkey. When alcohol is not present, individuals may experience uncomfortable symptoms such as restlessness, tremors, headache, nausea, vomiting and insomnia. These symptoms can occur six to 24 hours after their last drink. By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

It affects more men than women and is fatal 10 to 20 percent of the time. Not every person with depressive disorder drinks at all, much less is an alcoholic. However, individuals suffering from depression who are not in active treatment are more likely than the general population to be alcoholics.

As Blood Alcohol Concentration Increases—So Do the Risks

About half of all people suffering from alcoholism will struggle with the depressive disorder as a psychological effect of alcohol abuse, and the reverse is true as well. It is advised that those with family histories of depression and alcoholism https://ecosoberhouse.com/ take great care in limiting their alcohol intake and being cognizant of their risks. Both alcohol and mood disorders are found to run in families. Research has shown genetics significantly influence the likelihood of developing alcoholism.

It’s common to hear them say, „The only reason I drink is because you…” Heavy drinking can hamper your immune cells from fighting off viruses and bacteria. It also can harm your liver, which plays an important role in your immune system by making antibacterial proteins. This form of arthritis results from painful buildup of uric acid in the joints.

How Much Alcohol Should You Drink?

Unfortunately, this usually results in leaving those family members feeling lonely and frustrated. When someone with alcohol dependency promises they will never drink again but a short time later are back to drinking as much as always, it is easy to take the broken promises and lies personally. You may think, „If they really love me, they wouldn’t lie to me.”

alcoholism will kill you

Examples of these medications include sleep aids, such as zolpidem and eszopiclone, and benzodiazepines, such as diazepam and alprazolam. Even drinking alcohol while taking over-the-counter antihistamines can be dangerous. Given these significant health consequences, it’s not surprising that many people who are addicted to the substance, try to quit. However, if it’s not done properly, withdrawal from alcohol can have terrible health consequences of its own, including death.

They may also drink in secret and lie about their drinking. The more you drink, especially in a short period of time, the greater your risk of alcohol poisoning. Generally, once your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.40 percent or over, it’s dangerous territory. Meanwhile, the liver is able to process alcohol at a rate of about one standard drink an hour, so somebody who spaces out their drinks is likely to decrease their chances of dying from drinking alcohol.

  • Major depression and alcohol use disorder are also co-dependent in women, research suggests.
  • If you’ve been covering up for your loved one and not talking about their addiction openly for a long time, it may seem daunting to reach out for help.
  • A good first step is to keep a record of how much alcohol you drink and of when you don’t drink throughout the week.
  • Alcoholics anonymous (AA) and alcohol treatment centers offer classes and support group meetings.
  • It’s not necessary to have all the above symptoms before seeking medical help.

Internally, though, significant biological changes are occurring. But the amount of alcohol in one drink may be much higher than those in the list above. For example, some craft beers may have four times the amount of alcohol that’s in a regular beer.

When you first stop drinking, your body will begin to detoxify itself. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, tremors, sweating, and nausea. Sadly, many people use alcohol to heal trauma, for courage in areas where they are insecure, or in combination with other drugs. These unhealthy coping mechanisms only complicate and worsen an alcohol use disorder. Although benzodiazepines are the primary drug treatment for alcohol withdrawal, your doctor may also use other drugs alongside them. This can include drugs like clonidine (Catapres) and haloperidol (Haldol).

Alcohol can kill liver cells, and lead to scarring called cirrhosis. Long-term heavy use of alcohol also may give you alcoholic fatty liver disease, a sign that your liver doesn’t work as well as it should. As blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases, so does the effect of alcohol—as well how does alcoholism kill you as the risk of harm. Even small increases in BAC can decrease motor coordination, make a person feel sick, and cloud judgment. This can increase an individual’s risk of being injured from falls or car crashes, experiencing acts of violence, and engaging in unprotected or unintended sex.

A BAC from 0.35% to 0.80% causes a coma (unconsciousness), life-threatening respiratory depression and possibly fatal alcohol poisoning. With all alcoholic beverages, drinking while driving, operating an aircraft or heavy machinery increases the risk of an accident; many countries have penalties for drunk driving. The damaged liver can cause other complications in the body since it is a vital organ. The liver is responsible for over 500 tasks to ensure the body is functioning as healthy as possible.

  • Protect your children, and don’t hesitate to keep them away from someone who drinks and does not respect your boundaries.
  • Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., is a lecturer at UCLA and the CEO of IGNTD, an online company that produces podcasts and educational programs on mental health and addiction.
  • For example, some craft beers may have four times the amount of alcohol that’s in a regular beer.

If you or a loved one denies alcohol abuse or cannot cut back on drinking, there may be a danger of alcoholism. In the end-stages of alcoholism there are noticeable health conditions, like jaundice from liver failure. There are also more subtle signs like itchy skin, fluid retention, fatigue, and bleeding.

Cessation of alcohol intake

But when binge drinking or drinking regularly, this will have a negative impact on the brain, and thus mood disorders and more severe conditions as alcoholic dementia. Binge drinking is a common practice affecting 1 in 6 American adults, resulting in the consumption of 17 billion drinks each year. Binge drinking can be temporary or occur often, sometimes signaling the threat of future heavy drinking or alcohol abuse. Some chronic alcoholics develop a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which results from a thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency. The condition, which is sometimes called wet brain, is characterized by eye movement disorders, loss of muscle coordination, confusion and memory issues.