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Many people use alcohol recreationally without ever thinking through the impact it could have on their bodies and the rest of their lives.
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Other people take alcohol use a step further, drinking on a regular basis and drinking to excess just as regularly.
Alcohol addiction can ruin families and ruin lives–and it can also change your body forever, often in ways that you don’t realize at the time.
As soon as you start drinking, alcohol begins to impact your body.
Immediately, alcohol has a number of effects, including:
Using alcohol short-term has an immediate effect on your mind and body that wears off as the alcohol works its way out of your system.
Using alcohol long-term, however, can have ongoing effects that stay with you long-term, including impacts that can continue to make themselves known after you make the decision to stop drinking.
In many cases, however, you can reverse the health-related impacts by changing your alcohol consumption habits.
You know that alcohol has a number of immediate effects on your mood and processing ability.
What many people do not recognize, however, is that alcohol also has a substantial impact on your mood even when you are not drinking.
Prolonged alcohol use can lead to changes in your brain chemistry, which can, in turn:
Choosing to stop drinking can create a marked improvement in symptoms of anxiety or depression.
You may, however, notice other changes, including hallucinations, if you try to stop drinking abruptly.
Consult with a medical professional if you notice negative side effects or detox effects when you stop drinking.
You might not think much about your nerves when you’re drinking, but they play an integral role in your daily functions, including balance, pain sensation, and memory.
Over time, as you continue to drink, you may notice increased difficulty walking or with muscle memory even when you aren’t drunk. Impaired coordination may worsen with time.
Worse, you may start to lose your memories: not just memories of the times when you were drunk, but memories of other events.
You may struggle with short-term memory issues or find yourself unable to call to mind information that you know you should remember.
You may also develop conditions like:
Your liver bears the bulk of the responsibility for processing alcohol as it moves through your system. Breaking down alcohol creates hazardous chemicals.
When you have only a minor number of those chemicals in your body, they will move out naturally with time.
Chronic drinking, on the other hand, can cause those chemicals to build up in your system, leading to serious damage to your liver.
Alcohol-related liver disease may cause few symptoms in its early days.
As time goes by, however, you will notice increasing symptoms, including:
Choosing to stop drinking in the early stages of developing liver disease can allow your liver to heal over time.
Continuing to drink, on the other hand, can cause more permanent damage. When you progress to full-blown liver disease as a result of alcohol consumption, the damage may be irreversible.
Choosing to stop drinking can, however, reduce the odds of further damage to your liver.
Your heart pumps all the blood throughout your body throughout your lifetime, carrying the oxygen and vital nutrients your body needs throughout it.
Unfortunately, when you choose to engage in excessive alcohol consumption, it can create a number of changes in your heart and circulatory system. These may include:
Some studies suggest that drinking moderately can actually improve heart health .
Drinking to excess, however, can cause substantial damage to your heart. As your heart pumps less efficiently, your body is less able to get the vital nutrients it needs to function efficiently.
You may notice yourself growing out of breath more easily or struggling to engage in normal activities, much less athletic pursuits.
With heart damage, you may grow tired more easily and struggle to keep up with your family members as they pursue their usual activities.
Cancer can cause catastrophic changes to your life, including both your finances and your body.
Alcohol consumption, even minor alcohol consumption, can, according to recent studies, increase your risks of several types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, throat, bowels, and liver as well as breast cancer .
The more alcohol you consume, the higher your risk of developing these types of cancer. By reducing alcohol consumption, you can also reduce your risk of these cancers.
It doesn’t take long for the effects of alcohol on your digestive system to become visible. As soon as you start drinking, alcohol may irritate the lining of your stomach.
Some people experience symptoms of reflux or gastritis as soon as they start drinking. Others may experience nausea and vomiting with any consumption of alcohol, even minor consumption.
Over time, that irritation of the stomach and digestive system increases. Some people, with excess alcohol consumption, develop symptoms of chronic pancreatitis.
As alcohol consumption increases, the stomach lining may experience substantial damage, making it more difficult for your body to properly absorb many of the nutrients it needs in order to remain healthy.
Alcohol consumption can also interfere with the body’s ability to efficiently transport those nutrients, preventing the various areas of your body from getting what they need even if you otherwise choose to eat a healthy diet.
Alcohol consumption may also decrease the production of digestive enzymes in the stomach, leading to a higher instance of food sensitivities or making it difficult for you to properly eliminate waste .
Most people assume that women simply cannot drink while pregnant due to the potential impact on the developing fetus. If you’re trying to get pregnant–or plan to get pregnant in the future–you may want to check your drinking. A
lcohol can have a number of damaging impacts on both male and female fertility–and because fertility is such a delicate balance to begin with, doing damage to your fertility now could make it difficult or impossible to conceive a child in the future.
Over time, abusing alcohol can cause more than just physical impact: it can also have a substantial impact on your mind.
Many people have seen the effect of alcohol on once-brilliant individuals, watching them make increasingly poorer choices.
Mental impacts of alcohol can change your life permanently, including:
The psychological effects of addiction. Addicted individuals will do anything and forego anything for their next fix. Alcohol addiction may cause the individual to focus solely on when they can get drunk again.
They may spend their days planning around the next time they can drink or choose to drink in situations where it would normally be considered inappropriate.
Many people use alcohol to self-medicate for a variety of existing mental conditions. People with existing mental conditions may struggle more with dependence on alcohol or become addicted more easily.
In some cases, mental disorders may develop as a product of alcohol use; in other cases, the disorders may predate the alcohol use and abuse.
If you’re struggling with alcohol use or overuse, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.
You can reverse many of the negative effects of alcohol on your body and mind, but the sooner you decrease consumption, the easier you will find it to resolve those symptoms.
Most people consume alcohol in moderation at some point in their lives. When it starts to impact your health and your relationships, however, it’s time to find a different solution.
In addiction treatment we tend to focus on those with substance use disorders (SUDs), rather than their loved ones. But the loved ones of people with SUDs have an important …