Nearly one in seven Americans has an alcohol use disorder (AUD) at some point in their life, making it one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in the country. Men are around three to five times as likely as women to have an AUD.
However, because women are more susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol on the liver, heart, and brain, drinking can have major negative repercussions in this population. Given the same quantity of alcohol consumption, women also have greater blood alcohol levels than males, which is likely owing to sex variations in the way alcohol is transported across body tissues.
HARM OF ALCOHOL
In the United States, alcohol misuse and dependency cause unimaginable suffering and are responsible for around 5% of all fatalities. Cirrhosis of the liver, which was the ninth-leading cause of mortality in the U.S. in 1988, is the primary health risk connected to AUDs. AUDs are linked to aggression, suicide, and auto accidents.
A different mental disease, including sadness, anxiety, or a personality problem, is frequently present in people with AUDs. Although attempts to “self-medicate” with alcohol by treating one of these other diseases can sometimes lead to AUDs, in many situations the AUD is the main, underlying disorder.
However, when a person has both a significant mood or anxiety condition and an AUD, both issues need to be treated.
What is “alcoholism”—the widely used but ill-defined term typically used to describe AUDs? Even among medical professionals, this has caused debate for many years. A growing body of evidence supports the theory that AUDs are caused by a complex interaction between biological and psychological variables.
Some varieties of AUDs appear to run in families and are at least partially influenced by genetic factors, while the precise role of heredity in AUDs is unknown. While it may not be appropriate to hold someone accountable for having an AUD, it is crucial to hold them accountable for seeking help.
Despite the fact that diabetes is a biological illness, diabetics are nonetheless expected to take their insulin as prescribed.
REALISING AND TREATMENT WITH AUD
How can you tell whether you or a loved one has a significant drinking problem? The number of alcohol people really consume is not a good way to answer this. The assertion that “I can stop drinking whenever I want to” is also untrue.
The majority of chronic alcoholics have, at some point, abstained from alcohol for extended periods of time, but that does not guarantee they can manage the problem on their own: The abstinent alcoholic will almost always relapse unless they continue receiving therapy for substance abuse.
You should be on the lookout for an AUD if the subject:
- Unintentionally consumes more alcohol than intended; for instance, if someone says, “I’m just going to have one for the road,” they may end up drinking five beers.
consumes alcohol or spends a lot of time sobering up.
has difficulty fulfilling major social, professional, or other duties.
continues to use alcohol despite the fact that it frequently leads to health or mental issues.
- Needs increasingly more alcohol to provide the same effect.
When they stop drinking, they start to experience withdrawal symptoms (shaking, sweating, and “seeing things”).
Frequently complains when people ask them about their drinking or have been informed that they have a drinking issue by a doctor, their work, or a family member.
HEALTH RISKS OF BEING A CHRONIC ALCOHOLIC
If you’re otherwise healthy, occasionally consuming too much alcohol probably won’t have a negative long-term impact. But if you drink substantially on a regular basis, it’s a different story.
Most guys describe that as having four or more drinks per day, or 14 or 15 in a week. Heavy drinking for women is defined as having more than 3 drinks per day or 7–8 drinks per week.
You can suffer many physical and emotional side effects from drinking too much.
HARMFUL FOR LIVER
Alcohol is a toxin, and your liver’s function is to remove it from your system. But if you drink too much too quickly, your liver might not be able to keep up. Alcohol can damage liver cells and cause a scarring condition known as cirrhosis. An indicator that your liver isn’t functioning as it should is alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can be caused by long-term severe alcohol usage.
Alcoholic liver disease is a serious condition that can result from long-term alcohol addiction. Today, let’s discuss alcoholic liver illness. Alcoholic liver damage typically develops after years of excessive drinking.
The probability that you will acquire liver disease increases with the amount and length of alcohol misuse. Alcohol may result in hepatitis, which is characterized by liver enlargement and inflammation. This can eventually result in liver cirrhosis, the last stage of alcoholic liver disease, and liver scarring. Unfortunately, cirrhosis results in irreparable damage.
You may be aware of the risks associated with blood clots, excess body fat, and excessive cholesterol levels. Both are more likely when drinking. According to studies, those who drink heavily are also more likely to experience problems with their heart’s ability to pump blood and may be at an increased risk of developing heart disease.
On the other side, heavy drinking has a range of negative health effects, including cardiac issues. Drinking too much alcohol can cause excessive blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke. A condition that damages the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy can also be exacerbated by excessive drinking.
Alcohol can also lead to obesity and the myriad of health issues that come with it. Alcohol is a source of extra calories and a factor in weight growth, both of which have negative long-term effects.
The lesson here is one you probably already knew: if you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to moderate levels and avoid going overboard.
RISK FOR NERVOUS SYSTEM DAMAGE
The neural connections in the brain are impacted by alcohol. You will find it more difficult to remember information, think properly, communicate clearly, make decisions, and move your body as a result. Dementia and despair are just two conditions that can be brought on by excessive drinking. Damage to your nerves could be unpleasant and last for a long time after you sober up.
Although alcohol can have an impact on different areas of the brain, it generally shrinks brain tissue, kills brain cells, and depresses the central nervous system. Long-term binge drinking can have a substantial negative impact on memory and cognition.
Alcohol interacts with brain receptors, obstructing nerve cell communication and reducing activity along excitatory neural pathways. Alcoholics have well-documented neuro-cognitive impairments, neuronal damage, and neurodegeneration; nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms are still unknown. Direct and indirect effects are also possible.
In this review, we focused on how alcoholism affects the central nervous system and how it affects people’s health.
ALCOHOL CAN MAKE YOU ANEMIC
This occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough strong red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. You could develop ulcers, inflammation, and other issues as a result. You may skip meals more frequently if you drink too much alcohol, depriving your body of iron.
Alcohol consumption has the potential to cause either an iron deficiency or abnormally high amounts of iron in the body, in addition to interfering with the proper absorption of iron into the hemoglobin molecules of red blood cells (RBCs).
Anaemia can develop from iron shortage, which is frequently brought on by substantial blood loss because iron is necessary for RBC function. Gastrointestinal bleeding is a common source of blood loss and subsequent iron deficiency in alcoholic patients.
However, iron deficiency in alcoholics is frequently difficult to identify because it may be covered up by signs of other nutritional deficiencies (such as folic acid insufficiency) or by the presence of concomitant liver disease and other inflammatory disorders brought on by alcohol.
HOW TO GET HELP?
Seek assistance if you believe you may have an alcohol problem. Speak to your physician, therapist, or expert on addiction. Find support groups online. Some people are successful at quitting the habit on their own. However, you might want to check out the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous if you feel like you need further assistance. Learn more about alcoholism treatment in outpatient settings.
Take the following actions to reduce your risk while drinking:
- Don’t consume too much at once. If you choose to drink, doctors advise limiting your intake to no more than one drink for women and two for men every day.
- More slowly, sip.
- While drinking, eat something.
- Replace alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic alternatives. The best is water.
- Plan beforehand. Be sure you know how you’ll get home securely and drink only with people you trust.
YOU CAN ALWAYS ASK AA FOR HELP
The program of AA goes beyond not drinking. Its objective is to bring about “an entire psychic change,” or spiritual awakening, in the alcoholic’s thinking in order to “bring about recovery from alcoholism.” The Twelve Steps are supposed to lead to a spiritual awakening, and helping AA or staying in regular contact with AA members will help you stay sober.
To comprehend and follow the AA program, members are advised to find an experienced fellow alcoholic, known as a sponsor. The sponsor should ideally be the same sex as the sponsored person, have completed all twelve steps, and refrain from imposing their personal beliefs on the sponsored person.
According to the helper therapy theory, sponsors in AA might gain from their interactions with their charges because “helping behaviors” are associated with higher abstinence rates and fewer instances of binge drinking.
The ideology of the Counter-Enlightenment is carried on in the AA program. According to AA, accepting one’s inherent limits is essential to determining one’s standing among other people and God.
These concepts are known as “Counter-Enlightenment” views because they go against the Enlightenment’s belief that people have the ability to create a paradise on Earth using their own will and reason. Sociologists David R. Rudy and Arthur L. Greil discovered that an AA member needs to maintain a high level of commitment to be sober after reviewing the literature and monitoring AA meetings for sixteen months.